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Second Printing ,, , $ 6.00 h r f 1 

V * . - - >p,^ "\ ' 

Louis Jouvet 

By Bettina Liebowitz Knapp 

A master of acting, directing, and 
producing, Louis Jouvet is one of the 
great figures of the modern the?tre. 
From the perspeclm oi five yeais after 
his death, Mrs. Knapp has produced the 
first full-length biography in English of 
this dynamic personality, a book for all 
those interested in the theatre, profes- 
sionally or otherwise. 
During his early years Jouvet did the 
nianxial tasks of the theatre from sim- 
ple carpentry to the ir <lv *< ><i 't* con^tr < 
tioii and j .,_. s. He first 

gained attention for his skillful creau^.u 
of lighting effects in Jacques Copeau's 
Vietix-Colombier productions. There- 
after branching out in all departments, 
he soon distinguish ?d himself for his 
comprehensive and practical knowledge 
of the theatre. 

Mrs. Knapp explain*: "Jouvcl iecoilecl 
from drawing up fixed sets c f riJ F to 
which actors must adhere. He felt such 
rules could only hamper the creative 
expression of the actor. He therefore ap- 
proached a script with all his sensihili- 
( Continued on back flap) 
Jacket j)hoto - Lipnitzki 


D DOD1 OH073S3 

92 65-^6506 


I 92 J66k 65-1*6506 

Knapp $6,00 

Louis Jouvet man of the tneatre 

Kansas city |||| public library 

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Louis Jouvet 

Photo Lipnitzki 

Louis Jotivet in Moliere's Dom Juan 

Louis Jouvet 


Bettina Liebowitz Knapp 


Columbia University Press, New York 


First printing 1957 
Second printing 1958 








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With a few honourable and notable exceptions do we need 
to mention Shakespeare and Moliere? the history of the 
theatre records until this century few actors who could claim 
with any distinction the title of homme du theatre. Of this 
era and in this small and perhaps equivocal category Louis 
Jouvet was not only in the first rank; he was a leader among 
leaders. Other modern actors have sealed their claim to 
fame by their allegiance to the playwright and the play- 
wright's word, which is the lifeblood of the theatre, but 
Louis Jouvet was the shining example of all that is best in 
this essentially modern and in some quarters despised prac- 
tice, this search for balance between the creative and the 
interpretative and the managerial. The true homme du 
theatre has in him a powerful fusion of all three qualities. 
He is, as the author of this book remarks, a Renaissance man. 
If you accept that title, the "Renaissance man" had or has 
a fusion of talents which most critics and devotees of the 
theatre, whose approach is primarily a romantic approach, 
distrust. Such critics think that Coleridge's celebrated verdict 
on Kean acting Shakespeare "by flashes of lightning" is an 

viii Foreword 

encomium, whereas, if rightly read in its context, it is a 
succinct criticism. 

Let me say immediately that I do not know how good an 
actor Jouvet was. Let me add, as an actor, that one can never 
know that of any actor, with any certainty, until one has 
worked with him. I saw him many times on the screen, where 
he could hold the attention of audiences who in some far- 
flung cinemas did not understand the words issuing from 
the saturnine mouth, words which were often too impoverished 
to express the mind which shone through the intense but 
often withdrawn eyes. My own overall memory of those eyes 
is that they were critical but passionate, always in control, 
never cold. 

"When I saw him on the stage, which was only once, in his 
"magic play/' Dr. Knock, I was student in the Touraine, with 
no means to see the gamut of the contemporary French 
theatre, and too undeveloped to realize the significance of 
much more than a striking personality and an exemplary 
technique. Exemplary is perhaps the wrong word. Jouvet's 
technique, though it owed much to the basic principles of 
acting (and those principles are, if anyone is in doubt, quite 
simply based on the ability to act) , was, as with many actors 
of the front rank, highly individual and empiric, a fact which 
this book makes clear. It is more than interesting to me, as 
an actor of another race and a later decade, to remember 
and to have confirmed that Jouvet gave a prime importance 
to the weight and meaning of the dramatist's word and, there- 
fore, to the speaking of it. Jouvet has been criticized in my 
hearing as an elocutionist, a pedant, and a schoolteacher. The 
first epithet needs little defence; better an excess of clarity 
than confusion. Pedant and schoolteacher are the common 
terms of contempt used by the lazy or the dull, with whom 
Jouvet, who was a reformer as well as an artist, had little 
patience. These epithets lose their sting when applied to a 
true actor and homme du theatre, and in these days when 

Foreword Ix 

the eccentric, subjective, the wild and in a word selfish 
performance often wins very high acclaim, it is a good thing 
to remember that here was an actor and a mentor who be- 
lieved that the playwright's word was the playwright's bond 
and the actor's brief. 

It is also no bad thing to remember, and the thought is 
not entirely sentimental, that the great figures of the past 
also had their troubles, a fact which this book most clearly 
demonstrates. Jouvet in his writings reiterates the conclusion 
that was forced on him by the hard facts of the theatre: "Le 
seul probleme du theatre, c'est le succes" a very different 
statement, let it be affirmed, from the Broadway motto **The 
box-office never lies." 

It is a common and easy assumption that, when a great 
figure leaves us, his cares and vexations precipitate to the 
bottom of his cup of success, where the sediment is scarcely 
noted. Garrick's setbacks and vexations may fall like dry 
powder from his wig. The financial stresses of Irving are for- 
gotten in the legend of the Lyceum. The image of Bernhardt 
in Paris in the 1890' s, when her career was in full flood, evokes 
for us a tout Paris flocking each night to see her and to hear 
the voix (Tor caress and reverberate around the walls of the 
little Theatre de la Renaissance, from which, after a brief 
tenancy, she had to filer to the Americas to recoup two million 
gold francs of debt. The glory of Moliere blinds us to the 
fact that he wrote Le Malade Imaginaire of all plays while 
mortally ill and that, to this day, his grave is unknown. It is 
not inadvertently that I conjure up the great name of Moliere 
with the name of Jouvet, for I think there could be no prouder 
or more logical connection between two men of genius. I 
believe it to be justly said in this book that Jouvet treated 
Moliere as a contemporary and an intimate. How do I know 
this? An actor of another country and generation, who saw 
Jouvet but once on the stage, how can I possibly know this? 
It is not enough to say that I knew it the moment I saw him, 

xii Acknowledgments 

and other documents. My meetings and discussions with them 
made the gathering of information for this dissertation, to 
say the least, most pleasant. Particular thanks go to Miss 
Monval of the Rondel Theatrical collection of the Bibliotheque 
de 1* Arsenal ; to the Bibliotheque Nationale and to the Associa. 
tion des Regisseurs de Theatre. 

I would like to thank the members of the French Depart- 
ment of Columbia University for their help and guidance; 
more particularly, Professors Justin O'Brien, Jean Hytier, 
Bert Leefmans, Lawton P. Peckham, Norman L. Torrey, 
Philip R. Sisson and Jeanne Pleasants; the Columbia Univer- 
sity Libraries; and my friends and acquaintances, Mr. Eugene 
J. Sheffer, Mrs. Elise Bani, Mrs. Beatrix Sisson, Professor 
Leonora Cohen Rosenfield, Dr. Alba-Marie Fazia, Dr. Alice 
V. Griffin, Miss Maya Pines,- Miss Else Pinthus, Mr. Herbert 
J. Seligmann and Mrs. Utako Inoue. 

The editors of La Revue d'Histoire du Theatre most kindly 
gave me permission to use their painstakingly gleaned infor- 
mation for the table on the career of Louis Jouvet in the Ap- 
pendix and the generous cooperation of the Lipnitzki Studios 
of Paris made possible the illustrations in this book. 

I am deeply indebted to Mr. Michael Redgrave, who gra- 
ciously took time out from a crowded schedule of stage, motion 
picture, and television commitments to write the Foreword. 
If I may be permitted to speak for Jouvet as well as myself we 
are both highly honored. 

My thanks and appreciation go to my parents, David Lie- 
bowitz and Emily Gresser Liebowitz, for their constant aid 
and encouragement; and above all, to my husband, Russell S. 


vii Foreword* by Michael Redgrave 
xi Acknowledgments 

1 The Forming of an Artist 

3 The Youth and the Apprentice, 1887-1912 

22 Jouvet and the Vieux-Colombier, 1913-1922 

2 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

71 Becoming a Master, 1922-1924 

92 Trials and Tribulations, 1924-1928 

126 Jouvet and Giraudoux, 1928-1934 

3 The Athenee Theatre 

157 The Great Period, 1934-1939 

195 The War Years, 1939-1945 

209 Reconquering the Parisian Public, 1945-1947 

xiv Contents 

229 Jouvet and Moliere, 19474951 

260 Conclusion 


265 Career of Louis Jouvet 

291 Motion Pictures Made by Louis Jouvet 

293 Notes 

319 Bibliography 

335 Index 



Louis Jouvet in Moliere's Dom Juan 

After page 158 

Jouvet as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Les Nuit des 

As Tom Prior in Outward Bound 

As Doctor Knock 

Jouvet and Jules Romains 

Set for Act II of La Folle de Chaillot 

Christian Berard 

Jean Giraudoux and Jouvet 

As Hector in La Guerre de Troie rfaura pas Liet 

As The Ragpicker in La Folle de Chaillot 

As Le Chevalier Hans in Ondine, with Domi 


As Orgon in Tartuffe, with Pierre Renoir 
As Arnolphe in UEcole des Femmes, with Domi 

As Tartuff e 
In Dom Juan (with the statue of The Commandei 


The Forming of an Artist 

The Youth and the Apprentice 

All my childhood fancies, my dreams, and my reveries., were 
effortlessly prolonged here with delight, and the fears of the future 
failed to trouble me. Setting foot on this stage, as wretched as I 
might &e, would suffice to make me happy; I would always find 
felicity thereJ- 

Excitement and tension ran high, for this was an important 
occasion. The curtains parted and the play began. As Doctor 
Knock, Louis Jouvet wore no disguise or mask, merely a pair 
of metal spectacles over his pendulous nose. His hair was 
tightly combed back, revealing a large and striking forehead. 
He appeared tall, thin and bony; and his eyes, somewhat 
distorted by his grotesque glasses, had a piercing look. His 
speech was brusque and incisive; his tone that of a cocksure, 
opinionated man. As the play progressed, he revealed interest- 
ing mannerisms, such as rubbing his hands together, bestowing 
oblique looks at individuals to indicate judicious consideration, 
or using protracted silences to suggest wise reflection and 
attitudes of observation. Lastly, his gigantic steps had a touch 
of the grotesque. 2 When Dr. Knock examined his patients, his 
expression remained impassive and mysterious 9 as fateful as 

4 Forming an Artis* 

destiny. He frightened them with strange and startling glances ; 
his protruding chin suggested extreme force of character, and 
when the audience observed him closely, a magnetic dynamism 
was manifest in his manner. It was at these moments that 
Dr. Knock could hypnotize his patients into a serious sickness 
and so establish an immensely profitable practice, based on 
cleverness, chicanery, knowledge of human weaknesses, and 
coldly calculating ambition. 

When the curtains came together, Andre Gide, carried away 
with enthusiasm, ran on to the stage to congratulate Jouvet, 3 
while the entire audience burst into a round of applause. The 
year was 1923. This was Jouvet's first success and a well- 
deserved one. The road leading to it, however, had been pain- 
ful and arduous. Nothing had come easily to Jouvet. He had 
been forced to overcome not only physical defects, such as 
his stutter, but emotional and moral problems as well. 

Jouvet's stuttering was to manifest itself early in his life. 
During the formative and highly impressionable years of his 
youth, the neighbors' children poked fun at him and even 
his two older brothers, Edmond and Gustave, chided him be- 
cause of this handicap. Born at Crozon in the Finistere, on 
December 24, 1887, the boy was only four when he made the 
first of his many trips with his father. Monsieur Jouvet, a 
civil engineer, often would take the family with him when he 
was sent on certain jobs that necessitated his traveling from 
one part of France to another. In many ways though the boy 
took after his mother more than his father. His mother pos- 
sessed great will power, dignity, and an intensity and per- 
severance, characteristics which she passed on to her son, Louis. 

At the age of eight, Jouvet began reading the Morceaux 
Choisis of Moliere. Although he did not know who Moliere 
was, nor when he had lived, he devoured the plays, even reading 
the footnotes with passion. He was so impressed by Moliere 
that he and some friends quoted phrases back and forth as 
a game. During recreation periods, when oftentimes the wheel- 

Youth and Apprentice 5 

wrlght's son tried to bully them, lie and his friends would 
reply with quotations from Moliere suitable to the occasion. 
"I am talking to myself ... I could certainly put a bee in your 
bonnet! ... If the cap fits, wear it!" or "rascals," "master 
swindlers," "knaves," "real gallows birds," and so on. 4 

But, unfortunately, these relatively happy days in the coun- 
try schools, among good companions or in solitude, did not last 
long. On January 20, 1902, the accidental death of his father 5 
caused Louis to experience his first great sorrow. At the end 
of the year, Mme Jouvet and her children moved to Rethel in 
the Ardennes, to join her family. In this hilly and forested 
town, situated midway between Paris and Belgium, young 
Louis was to finish his secondary schooling. 

As an adolescent, Louis was tall, ungainly, and rather awk- 
ward. His face had narrow sharp lines and was not at all 
attractive. Indications of intelligence, a strong will, and per- 
sistence, but also contradictory traits of hesitation, doubt, in- 
security, and some fear of life itself were revealed in his 
physiognomy. An avid reader, Louis forgot his fears and 
escaped from the world of reality to that of fancy in the solitude 
of his room and his books. 

During the years that young Jouvet lived with his mother's 
family, he enjoyed a very close relationship with his maternal 
grandmother, a thin and small, bent and almost blind woman, 
wrinkled with age. But she was a warm, sympathetic, and en- 
couraging influence compared with the repressive nature of 
the other members of the family. As Jouvet sat in the homey 
atmosphere of her large sunny kitchen amidst lingering aromas 
of jams, meats, fruits, and baking bread, the boy enjoyed con- 
fiding his aspirations to her. 6 

It was in Rethel, at the age of fifteen, that he was first 
offered an opportunity to display his talents as an actor. Un- 
like other French schools, Notre-Dame de Rethel had its own 
small theatre on the Place d'Artois, a theatre which had been 
built in 1891 and inaugurated with the production of Bornier's 

6 Forming an Artist 

La Fille de Roland. Fortunately for Louis, the school's canon 
provost was a remarkable man with a modern outlook. He 
was convinced that acting was a necessary corollary to literary 
training, and, as part of the curriculum, every student had to 
memorize one act from a classical play and recite it before the 
class. 7 At the end of the year, the most talented were chosen 
to perform before the invited parents and guests. 8 

Such early speech training was excellent for Jouvet, since 
it forced him to control his articulation. Applying all his will 
power to speaking his lines very slowly, he tried to overcome 
his hesitation and conceal his embarrassment. In this he was 
only partially successful; he never could quite overcome his 
handicap. Later on he learned to disguise and partially offset 
it by adopting a special manner of speech. 

When his mother realized that his theatrical ambition had 
to be taken seriously, she was appalled; for to such old- 
fashioned pious folk, the stage was a sinful place. Great pres- 
sure was put on him to accept family tradition and middle-class 
common sense. He would stand silent, hands in pockets, 
fumbling with some small pebbles he had collected, listening 
to his mother and her brothers trying to dissuade him. He 
kept his thoughts to himself, but the more his family tried 
to thwart him, the firmer the hold his ambition took on him ; 
he was going to be an actor and spend the rest of his life in 
the theatre. 

For Jouvet was convinced that he had a call, despite his 
speech defect and his ungainliness. When he left his grand- 
mother in the kitchen for the retreat of his room, he read and 
dreamed about the lives of such famous actors as Moliere and 
Talma, and felt a secret kinship with them. But all this was 
in the realm of wishful thinking; when facing reality, he was 
disturbed by a crippling sense of insecurity. This lack of 
faith in himself was to dog him, more or less, all his life. The 
theatre was truly a way of escape for him and a way of 
disguising himself, of assuming many characters or becoming 

Youth and Apprentice 1 

many selves; or perhaps, unconsciously, lie hoped to resolve 
his conflicts by giving vent to them on stage. Psychologically, 
he was not only seeking a profession, but also a way to his 
own personal salvation. 

It was not too long, though, before Jouvet bowed to his 
mother's suggestion that he spend his summer vacations with 
his uncle Jiiles at Rheims. His uncle's household, a good deal 
like his grandmother's, was dignified, simple, and pious. 
Young Louis would often accompany his uncle, a doctor, on 
his farm calls. Both loved to wander over the broad country- 
side and linger in the burgeoning fields; when fatigued, they 
would sit under shade trees, where the view overlooked the 
valley, or perhaps beside a secluded stream. His uncle would 
speak wise words on plant and animal life and Louis was an 
absorbed listener. His curiosity had long been awakened to 
all forms of life about him: human, vegetable, and animal. 
This omnivorous passion for life contributed much to his 
evolution into an artist. He was still young enough to take a 
keen interest in nature. On their way home, Louis' uncle 
would reveal the real purpose of these excursions to mold 
him and convince him to give up his strong-headed ideas. 
But no amount of cajoling could influence the young man's 
decision. On the other hand, he was. a reasonable and loyal 
son, and at this critical period, he reiterated that out of respect 
for his family he would continue his scientific studies and 
eventually attend the school of pharmacy in Paris. 9 Something 
else attracted him to Paris the theatre. But this he never 

At the age of eighteen, on July 11, 1905, Louis Jouvet re- 
ceived his baccalaureate and promptly enrolled, as he had 
promised, in the school of pharmacy. However, he discovered 
that he had to work for two years as an assistant to a pharmacist 
before he could matriculate. His pay would be seven francs a 
day, a meager salary on which to live. 10 It was not an unlucky 
twist of fate though that led him to pharmacy, for his ex- 

8 Forming an Artist 

perience as a pharmacist put him in contact with all sorts of 
people, making it possible for him to learn of and witness the 
large and petty dramas of a provincial town. It was at this 
juncture that definite traits of character manifested them- 
selves studious and unwavering integrity, loyalty to his pro- 
fession and to his family. 

On July 8, 1909, he passed his final examinations and re- 
ceived the mention tres feiera. 11 The next move was to Paris, 
away from the provinces to the heart of the civilized world. 
There his passion for the theatre was rekindled. He devoted 
his leisure hours to the study of acting; he studied pharmacy 
out of a sense of duty, but acting at the prompting of his 
heart. He thought he could manage both, but his ambition 
seemed to be in inverse proportion to his apparent gifts as an 
actor and man of the theatre. However, not once during the 
whole course of his career was Jouvet deterred by his handi- 
caps, which would have discouraged anyone less persistent and 

Paris was the city in which art took on an almost fervid and 
religious importance, with many rival sects attacking and 
belittling one another. It was a vastly stimulating Paris, the 
world center of the arts, whose magnetic force drew Picasso 
and Gris from Spain, Pascin from Bulgaria, and Modigliani 
from Italy, all to be nourished by the richness of a soil that 
had been turned over throughout the centuries by France's 
great painters and sculptors. It was also the Paris of the 
theatrical innovators, of Antoine with the Theatre Libre and 
Lugne-Poe with his Theatre de FOeuvre, the first following 
the course of complete naturalism and the second that of 
idealistic symbolism. 

Antoine, acutely aware and percipient, a strong personality, 
was dismayed by the unresponsiveness of the stage to the trends 
of the times. He strove through the theatre to bring people 
face to face with themselves and with their environment. 
Antoine understood that the theatrical arts must follow the 

Youth and Apprentice 9 

patterns of reality. Actors and actresses had to walk and talk 
and comport themselves on stage as people did in shops, on 
the streets, in the subway, and in their homes if they were to 
mirror life with fidelity; a smudged mirror perhaps, but re- 
cognizable all the same, offering audiences the pleasure of 

What Antoine actually accomplished was the creation of a 
peephole theatre, permitting audiences to partake of a slice of 
life. He became the foremost sponsor of photographic reality 
and almost always used real life props in his productions. 
When he produced Blanchette by Brieux, he used real acces- 
sories a counter, a work basket, a novel, a pipe, tobacco, and 
so on. On stage he built real stores, actual bistros, butcher 
shops, and neighborhood slums. 12 

As was to be expected, a counter tendency soon set in; Paul 
Fort and Lugne-Poe were among the first to react. At the age 
of eighteen, in 1890, Paul Fort founded the Theatre Mixte, 
which he later called the Theatre d'Art. This was to be a poetic 
and idealistic theatre which was to restore horizons and free 
the mind from a burdensome preoccupation with everyday 
events. The camera was withdrawn in favor of spontaneous 
vision. Influenced by Moreas, Verlaine, and Regnier, Fort 
called upon such symbolist painters as Vuillard, Roussel, Bon- 
nard, and Redon to design his scenery. 

Lugne-Poe inaugurated his own theatre, the Theatre de 
1'Oeuvre, on May 17, 1893. Instead of passively reflecting the 
patterns of reality, he permitted his fancies to roam. His 
technique created an aura about people and events and favored 
the spiritual and abstracting tendencies of the arts of the time. 
Both he and Paul Fort agreed that stage settings should avoid 
the literal in favor of the abstract and suggestive. This meant, 
in terms of the theatre, that the stage settings should carry 
over to the audience a pervasive mood in order to create the 
proper emotional background for the play and thus intensify 
its impact. When Lugne-Poe and Paul Fort wanted to evoke 

10 Forming an Artist 

mysterious overtones in a scene, they would hang a gauze 
curtain in front of the stage which gave a shadowy character 
to the props behind it. In his production of Pelleas et Meli- 
sande (1893), Lugne-Poe went further than this in a drastic 
reappraisal of the functions of the mise en scene ; he not only 
did away with the footlights, as Antoine had done before him, 
but he also eliminated all furniture and stage accessories and 
kept the proscenium in semiobscurity. 

It was in this Paris, filled with new ideas, that Jouvet 
appeared. After enrolling in the school of pharmacy, he got 
a job in an acting company. He was awkward and green in 
every respect. He trembled with excitement when he saw the 
director prepare the contract. In his befuddlement, he re- 
called the advice of friends and advisors who told him to ask 
for a larger sum than he expected to receive, since the amount 
would summarily he reduced. He asked for 150 francs a month. 
The director, startled by his presumption, asked "How much?" 
Unsure of himself, and fearing a prompt dismissal, Jouvet 
replied, "One hundred and twenty." The director, resting his 
pen on the table, looked up at him and said, "Now let's not 
joke son . . . I'm the director here. Ill give you ninety francs. 
Take it or leave it." 13 Young Louis, confused, nodded his 
assent. 14 

Jouvet, drawn to all phases of life, showed great interest in 
the constructive activities he observed everywhere the cabi- 
netmaker at work, the shoemaker, the artist. He responded 
to each with an instinctive appreciation of sound craftsman- 
ship. However broad and catholic his outlook was during this 
period, he was by nature inclined to seek out men of similar 
background and interests, with whom he could exchange idea's, 
find support for his half-formed convictions, and gain, en- 
couragement. Gradually he formed a circle of friends with 
whom he aired his views, and pronounced judgments on the 
theatre and poetry. 15 Self-confident, enthusiastic and even 
rebellious, these ardent young men soon developed an increas- 

Youth and Apprentice II 

ing faith in themselves, in their points of view, and in their 
criticism of contemporary life. They finally attained sufficient 
courage to communicate their ideas to the public. They 
launched a magazine, La Poire aux Chimeres, the first number 
of which appeared in December 1907. In it they outlined their 
artistic goals. 

Unknown friends, join us. 

We are not bringing any prophetic, religious, or social innovations. 

We are young men without wealth and without glory. 

But a great faith has stirred us all, FAITH IN LIFE. And we summon 
all those who want to discover life. We have come to rally all nn- 
corrupted youth, to coordinate otherwise ineffectual forces, to centralize 
dispersed enthusiasms; we are creating a movement of art in action so 
that more heauty, clarity and tenderness will penetrate all forms of 
human activity. 

Join us. 16 

This group became known as the Groupe d' Action d'Art. In 
their ambitious program, they organized a literary club, sum- 
mer excursions, exhibitions of paintings and sculpture and 
musical recitals. 

When he first embarked on his acting career, Jouvet sought 
to work with small experimental groups. It might be said that 
he had only one foot in the theatre when he decided to try to 
pass the entrance requirements for the Conservatoire. In 1908, 
still ungainly, thin and a stutterer, he performed before a jury 
in the role of Horace and was rejected. 17 Twice again he tried 
to pass the examinations, first as Don Juan and then as Ar- 
nolphe in FEcole des Femmes. He was unsuccessful both 
times. But, convinced of his ability, and characteristically 
persistent, he asked permission to audit Leloir's classes at the 
Conservatoire. His request was granted. 

Leloir's teachings inspired Jouvet as they had a whole gene- 
ration of young actors. 18 Unquestionably, Jouvet's keen and 
fastidious mind was much more active when it came to the 
study of something he loved. The actor, Leloir, was not only 
to teach him the subtler aspects of his art, but also to instill 
some self-confidence in him; a strong base was being es- 

12 Forming an Artist 

tablished on which Jouvet was to build slowly and solidly. 
Leloir soon realized that Jouvet was a gifted and conscientious 
student, already artist enough instinctively to absorb what was 
important to his development. This instinctive capacity to 
reject what one does not need from a complex set of facts and 
impressions and take what is necessary for the support and 
growth of one's talents is generally the mark of the artist. 

Jouvet learned from Leloir how to display his native abilities 
most effectively on the stage. He also learned the importance 
of a harmonious relation between himself and the other artists 
in the play. His sense of the dramatic was schooled and shar- 
pened. He made himself into a tool to project to the audience 
the role he was performing. Leloir's penetrating and effective 
voice made a lasting impression on Jouvet; the latter soon im- 
proved his technique for mastering his voice and using it to 
best advantage. Finally, it was Leloir who suggested to Jouvet 
that he choose the role of Amolphe for his next audition. 

These were extremely stimulating days for Louis Jouvet. He 
gained in scope and experience. On the material side, however, 
he had made little or no progress. To make ends meet, he had 
to regulate his life with strict frugality. He made so little 
money that his trousers, the cheapest he could buy, were sadly 
frayed, his shirts were of the coarsest cotton; he used celluloid 
collars because they cleaned so easily, and paid five francs and 
seventy-five centimes for his shoes. 19 He half starved himself, 
but on the other hand saved enough money to attend the 
theatre rather frequently. He went to see Mounet-Sully, for 
instance, over forty times in Oedipe-Roi. 

In 1909, together with his friends of the Groupe d' Action 
d'Art, he took the bold step of founding the Theatre d' Action 
d'Art, becoming himself the director of the troupe as well as 
an actor in it. The Theatre d' Action d'Art gave performances 
most frequently under the auspices of the Universite Popu- 
laire du Faubourg Saint- Antoine, at the Chateau du Peuple, 
the Porte de Madrid, the Bois de Boulogne, and the Theatre de 

Youth and Apprentice 13 

la Ruche des Arts. 20 These performances gave Jouvet further 
opportunity to develop a fuller feeling of the stage and a deeper 
sense of rapport between himself and the other actors. He 
learned more precisely and forcefully to externalize his role. 
He realized how much he had profited from Leloir's instruc- 
tions. However, he was still in a formative period and had not 
as yet been singled out by the critics for special mention. 

The following summer he toured the provinces with the 
troupe. But this experience failed to be rewarding, though at 
bottom all experiences, of whatever nature, are eventually 
nourishing to the artist. But to Jouvet's mind, at the time, it 
had been a very difficult and disillusioning summer. There 
was not much to show for it, except time wasted traveling on 
slow, dirty trains, nights spent in small draf ty railroad stations, 
and plays often performed to unresponsive audiences. Jouvet 
was very glad to return to Paris. 21 

Upon his return he followed an active program, playing an 
increasing variety of roles with his group Oswald in Ibsen's 
Ghosts, Burrhus in Racine's Britannicus, and Arnolphe in 
Moliere's UEcole des Femmes, to mention but a few. This 
was catholicity indeed for an actor; it was as if he would 
swallow the world of the theatre in one gulp. Jouvet also 
resumed his evenings of poetic rendition to round out his 
training. He gained in vocal facility by his readings of the 
works of Villiers de 1'Isle-Adam, Guillaume Apollinaire, and 
Walt Whitman. On the evening of January 28, 1909, the play- 
wright Charles Vildrac heard Jouvet reading Walt Whitman 
and remarked to his friends that Jouvet revealed a very pene- 
trating insight, a fine grasp of poetic values, and possessed a 
deep, richly nuanced voice. 22 In April of that year, Charles 
Dullin began participating in these evenings of poetic readings, 
and a friendship, envigorating and rewarding to both, soon 
sprang up between the two. 

During the next season, 1909-1910, the Group d' Action d'Art 
became still more ambitious; it decided to produce several 

14 Forming an Artist 

plays or adaptations of plays by Balzac. The group abided by 
the rule that there wonld be no star performers; roles were 
to be rotated in order to give every actor an opportunity to 
develop his versatility. The Balzac season opened on Novem- 
ber 7, 1909, with Les Faiseurs, a five-act comedy in prose. 
Jouvet, as Mercadet, was by no means sensational. Only a few 
newspapers even mentioned him. A few months later, as Colonel 
Chabert, the tall and slender Jouvet walked on stage stooped, 
with a few strands of white hair falling on his forehead, his 
face distorted with the ravages of age and his eyes dim with 
years of suffering. Few people realized that this old man was 
actually a very young man, so vivid and so fully realized was 
his impersonation. But neither of these plays met with any 
degree of success. 23 

Jouvet also played bit parts in many melodramas; he dis- 
appeared through trap doors, portrayed the victims of un- 
fortunate circumstances, became lost in a desert or sat on a 
throne. In short, he experienced a varied and exciting life 
on the stage. But out of loyalty to his family, he doggedly 
continued to pursue his studies in pharmacy. 24 

He was privileged to be the pupil of the finest professors of 
chemistry and pharmacy of his epoch. Professor Behat, an 
outstanding chemist and teacher, was the one who failed him 
in an exam. Jouvet, asked to name the most satisfactory anti- 
septic, thought the professor had requested a classification. 
The professor repeated his question, and as Jouvet stood by 
silent and embarrassed, he himself answered it, "That which 
doesn't kill the patient, of course!" 25 

It was during this period that Jouvet met Leon Noel, a well- 
known director and one of the foremost actors in melodramatic 
and romantic dramas. Jouvet, who continued to be an assi- 
duous and impassioned theatregoer, had seen him in the role 
of Choppart in the Courrier de Lyon and was much impressed 
by his forceful interpretation. 

Jouvet enrolled in NoeTs free course in acting, given every 

Youth and Apprentice 15 

Sunday morning at the Theatre Montparnasse. Even though 
Noel's field was melodrama, he was a seasoned actor and knew 
every trick of the trade. Jouvet derived much benefit from his 
attendance at the course. Both Gemier and Dullin were also 
to acquire new knowledge from Noel's instruction mainly 
how to heighten critical moments in the drama, the effective 
use of exits and entrances, the necessity of clear diction and 
expressive gesticulation, and, above all, understanding what 
one was about on stage. 

Jouvet now felt that he had outgrown the Theatre d' Action 
d'Art, which, after all, was but another of the little theatres 
mushrooming all over Paris. It did not offer sufficient scope 
for his further advance. As an artist, he was perceptive of 
his own needs for constructive development. He had learned 
so much from Noel that he either had to push forward for 
recognition or stagnate with the Groupe d'Action d'Art. His 
decision was important. Jouvet had become very friendly with 
Noel, since they were drawn together by mutual sympathy and 
interests, and when Noel offered him an opportunity to tour 
with him on the continent, he accepted. 26 

In preparation for the tour, Noel rehearsed Jouvet thorough- 
ly in the damp cellar of the Cafe du Globe. As was to be ex- 
pected, Jouvet did not always come up to the mark Noel set 
for him. Noel's vigorous creative criticism made Jouvet more 
aware than ever of how much there was to learn about the 
acting profession, if one was to master it. For instance, Jouvet 
failed Noel in some of his lines at a rehearsal. Noel required 
him to repeat the part until he had assimilated it. As an 
example of Noel's thoroughness in instruction, it is interesting 
to observe how closely he studied Jouvet at the rehearsals. 
Jouvet, standing in the narrow space which constituted the 
stage area, between the cast-iron pillars and the blue metal 
spittoons, performed before Leon Noel, who was seated on a 
small bench. Jouvet was supposed to knock off a hat and say, 
"Hats off! when you address the daughters of the Marshal, 

16 Forming an Artist 

Duke of Ligny !" He could not succeed, however, in effectively 
synchronizing his gestures with his speech, no matter how 
often he tried, and, having exhausted every resource, he 
awaited the director's comment. Noel, after pondering the 
matter for several seconds, finally suggested that Jouvet reverse 
the line, and begin with "when you address the daughters of 
the Marshal, Duke of Ligny," then pause several seconds, 
seize the hat, being careful not to knock off the actor's wig, 
and toss it to the ground. (This was to be done with measured 
and controlled violence, with finesse, for, if it were crudely 
done, the effect would fail and it might even appear somewhat 
buffoonish; furthermore, the hat might roll down to the 
footlights and start a fire.) Only then was this gesture to be 
completed, and the rest of the line "Hats off!" to be spoken. 
When Jouvet finally mastered it, Noel said, "That's it, that's 
tradition." 27 

Noel's love for the theatre was great. His reverence for the 
art impelled him to instill a similar attitude in his students. 
Had Jouvet not met Noel, his talents might well have died on 
the vine. It was Noel who encouraged both the moral and 
aesthetic sides of him. This was one of the most rewarding of 
J ouvet's relationships and when he recalled this period later 
in life, he mentioned it with a profound nostalgia. 

Jouvet, as yet not an outstanding actor, was nonetheless 
slowly acquiring strength and substance and improving his 
technique. He began to play bit parts in the Parisian theatres 
the Chatelet, the Odeon, and the Theatre de Belleville. He 
developed not only a passion for the stage, but also for its 
component parts the directing, the mise en scene, the study 
of the text, the quick ingenuity in improvisation. He also began 
to study theatrical machinery, covering the ground from the 
very early and little-known Greek period up to modern times. 
He took courses at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs and 
visited museums. He especially enjoyed the fourteenth- and 
fifteenth-century masters. It was plain to him now how closely 

Youth and Apprentice 17 

the arts were Interwoven in the theatre, a conception to which 
he was to return again and again in his reflection. He was 
slowly becoming a new kind of creature, a man of the theatre, 
many-sided, scholarly and observant, like the artists of the 
Renaissance. "The theatre is a world in itself," he was ac- 
customed to say to his friends; "Ah! the theatre! When one 
has that in one's blood," 

Jouvet was somewhat dissatisfied with the rate of progress 
he was making at this time. Playing bit parts in marginal 
theatres gained neither recognition nor advancement for him. 
His sole source of comfort was to be found in the satisfaction 
he derived from his researches. He decided on July 26, 1910, 
to ask Jacques Rouche for a job, and he was promptly hired. 
Rouche was the director of the Theatre des Arts, a small 
theatre, situated on the Boulevard des Batignolles, seating 
six hundred people, but already attracting some attention. 28 
Rouche was bent on experimenting with his own theatrical 
ideas and drew to his aegis many fine young talents. 29 Jouvet 
was to spend the next two years with this enthusiastic group 
and to profit by his association with it. 

Rouche had been impressed by the rich decorations of 
Diaghilev's Ballet Russe with its orgy of color and its sensual 
dance rhythms and music. He outlined his own rather revo- 
lutionary ideas on the stage in his book I! An ThedtraL The 
mise en scene for a play, he wrote, ". . . must neither distort it, 
nor embelish it excessively, but merely give just value to its 
main lines and the appropriate character of its beauty." 30 
Convinced that stage sets should be highly decorative and not 
merely trompe Foeil paintings, Rouche engaged the artist 
Durec to do the decors for his productions. 31 Like the Duke 
of Sax-Meiningen and Talma before him, he stressed the close 
harmony that must exist between the costumes, the decor, the 
direction, and the acting. Instead of clashing with each other, 
they must all be woven together in a harmonious pattern to 
make a unified impression. 3 * 

18 Forming an Artist 

The atmosphere pervading the Theatre des Arts was almost 
monkish in its sense of dedication to its work. The men and 
women associated with it were indifferent to everything but 
the theatre, and their capacity for selfless application was 
complete. They worked in every phase of the theatre. Some- 
times they remained in the small dim building until the early 
morning, working out some acting problem, or studying a text 
or decor. Some of them, such as Jouvet, were too poor to pay 
the bus fare, so they walked the long distances to their homes. 
The chief mechanic lived near the Sacre-Coeur, the chief elec- 
trician at Pre-Saint Gervais, and Jouvet at 32 Rue de la Sante. 33 
Jouvet received seven francs for each evening performance and 
only five francs for the matinee. Hence he could barely afford 
to buy much more than the bare necessities. But he did not 
complain; spurred on by enthusiasm he was learning and 
taking on stature. 

It was in the Theatre des Arts that Jouvet's philosophy of 
the stage began to crystallize in one important aspect. By 1911, 
he was aware of the importance of the text in the theatrical 
production; it was to become the core of his philosophy. 
Directors could take different approaches to the text, but for 
Jouvet strict adherence to the text was the only sound prin- 
ciple to follow. He would build on what the text revealed of 
the characters and their conflicts; he would start with that 
premise and respect it. 

At the end of his brief but enriching stay with the Theatre 
des Arts, Jouvet reached a point of self -evaluation where he 
knew that he had attained the creative stage in acting. That 
is, he now had it in Ms power to create identities, get inside 
characters, give them embodiment from within. To build up 
his portrayals he studied the texts of the plays, went back to 
them again and again for further gleanings. His creation, for 
example, of Father Zossima, in The Brothers Karamazov was 
truly unforgetable. 34 

Jacques Copeau, close to Rouche at the time, was also in- 

Youth and Apprentice 19 

terested In the future of the Theatre des Arts. He attended a 
performance in which Jouvei played the carpenter Meteil in 
Henri Gheon's five-act tragedy Le Pain. He was so impressed 
by J olivet's acting that he wrote: 

I took particular note of a yonng actor, Mr. Louis Jouvet, -who, in the 
episodic part of a master carpenter, commands attention by his bearing, 
his sobriety, and even a certain depth which presages the artist. 35 

Jouvet also participated in four other Rouche productions. 
He played Le Ministre in Le Chagrin du Palais de Han, 
arranged for the stage from a Chinese poem by Louis Laloy, 
Le Joueur de Vielle, a silent part in Couperin's ballet Dominos, 
the king in Mussel's Fantasio, and Le Maitre, Le Lion, Le 
Bourgeois, in Mil Neuf Cent Douze, a revue by Charles Muller 
and Regis Gignoux. He portrayed Le Joueur de Vielle so 
well that he managed to impress a critical audience with his 
absolute identification with the character. Good miming is 
the foundation of sound acting. Jouvet had created a silent 
language easily understood by the audience, and had proven 
in this role that he was an excellent mime. 36 

Although he enjoyed his work at the Theatre des Arts, he 
wrote Jacques Rouche on May 10, 1912, setting forth his 
reasons for not returning the following season. 

I thank you most kindly for your offer to return to the Theatre next 
year, but I cannot accept the 200 francs a month as proposed by Mr. Dayle. 
I had too difficult a time meeting my expenses last year. 

Believe me, it was only after careful deliberation that I arrived at this 
decision because I should have been very happy to have worked with you. 
Please accept my sincere gratitude and my respectful appreciation for 
everything you have done for me. 3T 

Jouvet was beginning to realize his own worth and his self- 
confidence was continually growing. 

After he left the Theatre des Arts, Jouvet continued his 
studies in pharmacy. By the summer of 1912, he had accumu- 
lated, despite his poverty, the astonishing sum of 5,000 francs, 
which he put to good use by spending it on his own experi- 
mental theatre. He decided, together with his intimate friend, 

20 Forming an Artist 

Camilla Corney, to rent the Theatre du Chateau d'Eau, and 
run it according to his own principles. To pay current ex- 
penses and to attract sufficient audiences they decided to 
reduce the price of the tickets. Jouvet, of necessity austerely 
economical in all of his ventures, could not afford new scene- 
ry, so he patched up whatever scenery was at hand in the 
vaults o the theatre. His production of Le Crime Impossible* 
a three-act play in verse, required three different stage acts: 
one in hell, the second in a hermitage, and the third in a 
boudoir. He found only traditional sets in the theatre's store 
rooms a bedroom, a living room, and so on; thus he was 
forced to call on his ingenuity. By turning the sets upside 
down and flashing eerie lights on the proscenium he suc- 
ceeded in producing a vague and haunting effect for Satan's 
abode. 38 

The attendance at this performance and at later productions 
at the Theatre du Chateau d'Eau was small. At the end of 
the summer, Jouvet faced a deficit of 2,000 francs. There was 
no critical acclaim to encourage him, no group of devoted 
admirers. No matter; he had started on a course which he 
knew to be right and he would pursue it. 

He had meanwhile fallen in love with a Danish girl, Else 
Collin, a friend of the Copeaus. At the summer's end, the 
theatre having been closed and the venture dropped, the couple 
left together for Copenhagen, where they were married on 
September 26, 1912. Several months later, on April 12, 1913, 
he was again back in Paris where he received his degree in 
pharmacy. He was then twenty-five years of age. Although 
Jouvet had no intention of using his training in pharmacy, it 
was to serve him well in an odd way; it revealed to him that 
he could pursue to a successful conclusion a course disagree- 
able to himself and alien to his inclinations. 

In the few years of his apprenticeship, Jouvet had laid the 
foundations of his craftsmanship as an actor in France's renas- 
cent theatre. Moreover, he had been in a position to study 

Jouth and Apprentice 21 

human behavior from many vantage points in pharmacies, 
on the streets of Paris, and in the various theatres. All this 
developed maturity in his ontlook. 

Now, back in Paris, he visited Copean several times at his 
home in Le Limon. Copean, already impressed by J olivet's 
talents as an actor, was soon to engage him in several capacities 
for his Theatre du Vienx-Colombier which was still to come 
into being. 39 Copean and Jouvet were to ride a rising tide of 
art and aesthetic rejuvenation in the theatre. At first, Copean 
was to assume leadership. Jouvet, docile and dependent, was 
his disciple. The two men had in common a strong dislike for 
the contemporary commercial theatre. Copeau wanted to re- 
construct theatrical art from the base up; his was an expres- 
sion of pure fanaticism in the world of the theatre, Copean 

Unrestrained commercialism degrades our French stage more cynically 
each day and turns the cultivated public away from it. Most theatres are 
monopolized by a handful of entertainers in the pay of shameless trades- 
men. There seems to be the same spirit of playacting, speculation, and 
baseness everywhere. And even where great traditions should command 
a certain sense of decency, there still is bluffing, every type of over- 
bidding, and all sorts of exhibitionism, living off an art, of which there 
is no longer any question that it is dying. Inertia, disorder, lack of 
discipline, ignorance and stupidity, disdain for the creator, hatred for 
beauty seem to be everywhere. The productions have become more and 
more insane and vain; critics have become more easily satisfied, and the 
public taste more and more misled. It is all this which arouses and 
revolts us. 40 

The conflicts raging about the theatre at this time reflected, 
to a great degree, the deep changes that were soon to come 
about in our western civilization. All over -Europe leaders of 
the theatre were elaborating new and interesting theories of 
production, acting, and scenic design. 

Jouvet and the Vieux-Colombier 

As for me, I am indebted to him for the most precious, the most 
exciting, the most fruitful friendship of my youth. 

Like a few men of my generation^ I can say that I owe him 
everything that I am. 1 

It was the spring of 1913 when Copeau announced he would 
try out actors for his projected theatre on the Rue du Vieux- 
Colomhier. The news spread rapidly through the grapevine of 
Paris. The many hopefuls awaiting such an opportunity soon 
foregathered at the old Athenee Saint-Germain theatre on the 
Rue du Vieux-Colomhier for the critical test. Among the 
candidates was Louis Jouvet. After the audition, Copeau 
promptly engaged Jouvet, whose highly developed talents he 
had already recognized, in the capacities of scene painter, 
mechanic, manipulator of lights, decorator, and, last hut not 
least, actor. 2 

The old theatre which Copeau had rented and which he 
intended to refashion was situated on the Left Bank on a 
street largely populated hy artists, writers, poets, and students. 
The street had a fine but shadowy association with the theatre 
of the seventeenth century. It was here, supposedly, that 

The Vieux-Colombier 23 

Moliere, Racine, and La Fontaine used to call on Boileau. 
Thus, the Rue du Vienx-Colombler was of some historic im- 
portance, and despite Copeau's wrathful Iconoclasm, it ap- 
pealed to him. 3 The theatre would, of course, be remodeled 
to accord with Copeau's conceptions, and eventually be un- 
recognizable as the old Athenee Saint-Germain. Remodeling 
was just one of the problems which Copeau faced. To attract 
audiences to a theatre in the backwash of Paris, he undercut 
the price of tickets at the boulevard theatres; moreover, he 
instituted a system of season subscriptions, attractive to those 
with artistic ideals and little money. By these maneuvers, he 
made his theatre the least expensive to attend in all of Paris. 4 

Copeau was a man of great force and intelligence. Botli 
traits revealed themselves plainly in the direct grip he took 
on any project. He had long been occupied with thoughts of 
the theatre and had formulated a system of ideas which, by 
virtue of his very dynamic nature, he sought to impose on his 
co-workers. He had contributed numerous criticisms and 
articles on the theatre to the Gaulois, Le Petit Journal, and La 
Grande Revue. In 1909, together with Andre Gide, Jean 
Schlumberger, Andre Ruyters, and Henri Gheon, he had 
founded the Nouvelle Revue Frangaise. In its pages Copeau 
attacked with savage directness the debased state of the con- 
temporary French theatre. He was determined to change the 
trend, to rebuild the theatre from the bottom up. When he 
founded his Theatre du Vieux-Colombier in 1913, he stated 
his impelling reasons for doing so : ". . . the feeling which stirs 
us, the passion which drives us, compels us, forces us, and to 
which we must finally yield, that is indignation." 5 

Copeau's new theatre was to be designed along simple classic 
lines. He would have none of the fustian of the boulevard 
theatre, the heavy ornamentation, the gold plate, the rococo 
cut-glass chandeliers. He would let in clean air where there 
had been an accumulation of dust, stuffy ideas, dimness and 
an intolerable stagnation. In short, he would cleanse the com- 

2^ Forming an Artist 

mercialized theatre of all that was hideous, cheap, and 

His theatre would be as simple in conception and as har- 
monious as a Doric temple at once functional, orderly, and 
beautiful. Copeau would emhody in its construction all that 
he had assimilated and felt he could use of the ideas of Gordon 
Craig, Adolphe Appia, Constantin Stanislavski, Harley Gran- 
ville-Barker, and Vsevolod Meyerhold. Light yellow wall 
panels, green curtains draping back to the sides of the stage, 
and indirect lighting, soothing to the eyes, would provide the 
interior decoration for his new theatre. 6 The stage would be 
bare to permit direct contact between the audience and the 
actor. 7 

No detail was missed. This was going to be a new kind of 
theatre for Paris functional without being mechanical, re- 
volutionary without being sentimental. It would provide a 
more appropriate background for plays both old and new, 
old plays seen in fresh perspective, and new plays interpreted 
in the light of the times. The functional element would com- 
prehend a new conception of the theatre, as something more 
than theatre, with broader cultural outlook and social impli- 
cations. It would be a unit, housing beside the theatre itself 
all of the administrative offices, including a publicity service, 
and a storeroom for plays and manuscripts. The latter in it- 
self was an innovation at time when manuscripts, unless 
specially solicited, were carelessly handled; here, at least, they 
could be found without difficulty when desired and would 
have the benefit of a tomb. In the lobby, standing on a pedestal, 
was placed a bust of Moliere, a symbol of dedication to an 

Copeau's nimble and perceptive mind had already laid down 
the course that the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier was to take; 
he would seek fresh techniques for achieving more powerful 
and suggestive visual and dramatic effects while strictly ad- 
hering to the import of the text. He would also try to make 

The Vieux-Colombier 25 

finished and versatile actors out of unleavened human talent. 
The potentialities of those who auditioned hefore Copean were 
generally discernahle to him, though they had often been 
overlooked by the blase professional judges of the commercial 
theatres. What he planned to do in his theatre was going to 
be as marked a departure from the commercial theatre's way 
of functioning as was the departure of the impressionists from 
the stale formalistic painting that had preceeded the great 

Copeau hired ten actors 8 after the audition. These were 
to constitute the core of his new efforts and were to develop 
under his tutelage, working together harmoniously for long 
hours, for days, for years. They were to help establish France's 
foremost modern theatrical venture before the First World 

One of the names on the roster, that of Charles Dullin, Is 
already familiar. He and Jouvet had already worked together; 
they had similar ambitions and the same dedication. By now, 
both Jouvet, In spite of his disappointments, hardships and 
handicaps, and Dullin had been fairly well trained. But, in 
Copeau's opinion, none was sufficiently well trained for his 
disciplined purpose. Copeau had very pointed ideas about 
what constituted an actor's physical and emotional equipment. 
Following the principles of Moliere and the Elizabethans, he 
would try to develop the actor's every potential, to make him 
a thoroughly versatile individual, as skilled in physical exer- 
cises as with voice, body, and mask. 

While the Theatre de FAthenee Saint-Germain was being 
renovated in June of 1913, Copeau took his troupe of ten 
actors to Le Limon in the region of La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, 
about an hour away from Paris by train. On arrival in the 
lovely green countryside, his actors were boarded at the homes 
of nearby farmers. They were settled in relative comfort, 
unhampered by economic worries and in a position to devote 
themselves unremittingly to study and hard work. Copeau's 

26 Forming an Artist 

group would rehearse out-of-doors every day, sometimes for 
five hours without interruption. For stage settings, he would 
turn nature to good use a group of trees, a bush, a field. He 
made every demand on his actors, striving to create vigorous 
and graceful hodies, as physically adept as those of the Eliza- 
bethan actors, able to fight, to run and perform any arduous 
leap that a play might require. They swam, fenced, danced; 
their bodies became suppler, stronger; they were flushed with 
good health. This working schedule was carried on in complete 
isolation for ten weeks. On September 1, 1913, the troupe, 
pronounced fit, prepared to return to Paris. The actors were 
masters of their bodies, of their voices, and of the various 
dramatic techniques which Copeau had taught them. 9 

The night of October 22, 1913 was to be memorable in the 
lives of the actors. The Vieux-Colombier was inaugurating its 
first production. Two plays had been selected, A Woman 
Killed with Kindness^ in five acts, adapted by Jacques Copeau 
from the original of the Elizabethan Thomas Heywood, and 
Moliere's U Amour Medecin. 

The house was filled to capacity and, of course, the actors 
were tense with expectation and excitement. The first night 
might decide the matter of the troupe's survival. When the 
green drapes were finally drawn back, the stage revealed a 
severely simple mise en scene, consisting of a table, two high- 
backed chairs, and a sun-gold background. 

The Heywood play is, understandably, old in style and 
rather heavy in pace. Copeau had attempted to modernize it 
by omitting all unessential parts, giving it a clearer and more 
forceful dramatic line. But he still followed the general plan. 
It related the consequences of Mistress Frankford's (Blanche 
Albane) infidelity with her husband's best friend Wendoll 
(Jacques Copeau). Master Frankford (Roger Karl) seemed 
inclined to be lenient when he discovered his wife in a com- 
promising situation with his friend, but he actually turned out 
to be a despot, dealing out the sort of kindness that kills. 

The Vieux-Colombier 27 

Heywood, like Shakespeare, was both an actor and an author 
and he indulged in plots and counterplots. By cutting all 
Elizabethan excess, Copeau tightened up the dramatic situa- 
tions, but apparently not sufficiently. 

Louis Jouvet played a small part, that of Master Cranwell; 
he appeared with Wendoll on the stage at the point when 
Frankford begins to suspect his wife's infidelity. He was 
dressed in the Elizabethan style, with tight knee boots, a dark 
loose jacket, a white collar; he wore a short and smartly 
trimmed beard, a mustache, and long hair which hung down 
from his forehead in the form of a bang. This role was so in- 
conspicuous that the critics overlooked him in the reviews. 
But Roger Martin du Gard, impressed by Jouvet's first ap- 
pearance on the stage of the Vieux-Colombier, wrote years 
later that the nobility of his stance, the authenticity of his 
gestures, the intensity of his emotion and studied immobility 
when called for, all combined to make his silhouette un- 
forgettable. 10 

Jouvet first distinguished himself with this troupe, oddly 
enough, as a master of lighting effects. He received several 
commendations for his achievements on this score. His subtle 
manipulation of lights to create a fitting atmosphere for the 
scenery was something new; restraint in stage setting was still 
novel at that time when the stage was generally overstuffed 
with props to create the impression of verisimilitude. 

The simple stage sets created by Francis Jourdain for this 
production gave full scope to the audience's imaginative 
participation. The only props in the scene in which Master 
Frankford and his servant surprise his wife in a compromising 
situation were an iron fence and dark blue drapes. In the 
scene in which Mistress Frankford plays on a lute, there was 
only a plain backdrop with a grayish-gold luminous horizon 
above it. The costumes designed by Valentine Rau belonged 
to the period; Copeau, as did previously the Duke of Saxe- 
Meiningen, believed in historical accuracy in his mise en scene. 

28 Forming an Artist 

In V Amour Medecin, Jouvet had a fairly prominent part, 
although only a handful of people were discerning enough to 
see that he possessed rare qualities as an actor. Jouvet himself 
was doubtful that he could be effective in this part. Standing- 
in awe of Moliere and realizing how gifted an actor must be 
to breathe life into his characters, he had hesitated to accept 
any of MoHere's comic roles. But he had finally acquiesced 
at Copeau's insistance and the latter's faith in Jouvet was re- 
warded by a brilliant performance, which astonished most 
of all Jouvet himself. 11 

In this comedy, the author characteristically ridicules doc- 
tors, for their ignorance, their quackish ideas, and their pom- 
pous pretensions. Jouvet, as Macro ton, was an overbearing and 
bombastic fellow. Suggestive make-up was necessary to perfect 
this characterization, and Jpuvet was as much a student of 
this art as he was of lighting. Macroton, a skeletal figure, was 
draped in a black robe. Large spectacles hung perilously from 
the tip of his nose. His prominent cheekbones were smudged 
with grease, his face seamed with wrinkles. However, Jouvet 
still felt unsure of himself and just before he made his ap- 
pearance on stage, he once more tested his facial reflexes 
before a mirror. He sought, at the last moment, ways in which 
he could improve his gestures. As a result of his patient and 
intelligent preparation, he was hilariously effective, his acting 
bringing out the character in bold relief. He knew he always 
had to project his characterization, as a believable human 
being, on to the audience. And in this role of Macroton, Jouvet 
succeeded with eclat. But few in the audience suspected, in 
view of his nonchalance on the stage, that before appearing, 
Jouvet had been wavering and lacking in self-confidence, 
haunted as always by the possibility of failure. 12 

After the performance, the cast was cheered. Andre Suares 
wrote that Moliere had never been so well served and "I am 
crazy about your two doctors, the fat one . . . and the other one, 
that tall stammering skeleton. I almost died laughing." 13 And 

The Vieux-Colombier 29 

the critic Henri Gheon, writing for the Nouvelle Revue Fran- 
aise also expressed his delight. 14 

Excited and stimulated by their success, the actors remained 
in the theatre long after the audience had left, talking them- 
selves out till the early morning, discussing future plans and 
conjuring up broad vistas of brilliant achievement. Jouvet, 
however, was not of a nature to be as easily carried away as 
the others. Being more reflective and introspective, he stood 
apart to consider the situation in the light of his under- 
standing. 15 He was very critical of himself; he saw so much 
that could be improved in his protrayaL He took the neces- 
sary unremitting hard work for granted. 

Jouvet's powers of self-criticism were to stand him in good 
stead. His dissatisfaction with his characterization forced him 
to experiment and to improve on the old. It was not unusual 
for Jouvet, dark and intense, with his strangely shaped head 
and the incisive planes of his face, to fee found lingering on 
the bare silent stage pondering, while slowly defining his 
objectives. He often called upon the resources of his mind 
to give direction to his emotions, going beyond being merely 
an interpreter because he sought solid principle as the basis 
of his art. He enjoyed the sense of isolation which those 
moments gave him. He seemed indefatigable. 16 

The troupe, by now superbly organized, spent the following 
days and weeks in hard work. It not only rehearsed many long 
hours, but made its own costumes and scenery. It functioned 
as a unit, all the members submitting to the same discipline 
and devoting themselves to the same ends. Copeau was the 
inspiring leader, but Jouvet was assuming more and more 
responsibilities, for Copeau, who had suspected his worth 
since he had seen him in Le Pain at the Theatre des Arts, 
considered him to be one of his most astute advisers in 
theatrical matters. 

During the long rehearsals and many hours spent designing 
new decors, a peculiar quirk appeared in Jouvet's character; 

30 Forming an Artist 

or rather, the exaggeration of a tendency always latent a 
tendency to be somewhat harsh in judgment toward lesser men. 
He would respect and give himself only to those who worked 
as hard and as faithfully as he did. He did not feign his dislike 
for the bluffers, the lazy, the noisy, and the chatterers, and 
for this reason, many thought him disagreeable. This attitude 
was really due to an almost fanatical integrity. Since integrity 
to life and to art was at the base of his character, he had always 
been harsher and made more demands on himself than he did 
of others, but, at the same time, he did not become overly 
friendly with those whom he thought invited his disappro- 

Copeau had never accepted "the middle of the road" attitude 
so characteristic of the boulevard theatrical directors; he was 
willing to undertake the production of plays by unknown but 
interesting literary talents. Such a one was Jean Schlumberger, 
whose Les Fils Louverne was Copeau's second production, and 
was presented on November 11, 1913. 

Schlumberger was a keen analyst of character and expressed 
himself with simplicity and point. Two brothers are the prin- 
cipals of Les Fils Louverne; one Didier (Roger Karl) cruel 
and egotistical, the other Alain (Charles Dullin) , marked with 
the same defects, but who, with a growing awareness of him- 
self, finally manages to overcome them. This somersault in 
character was made brilliantly plausible by the author's skill 
and understanding, and actually it is not foreign to human 
nature. 17 

In this play Louis Jouvet acted a minor part, one of the 
old farmers, Grimbosq, who appears only in the first scene. 
Grimbosq, who has worked faithfully on Didier's father's 
estate throughout his adult life, is summarily dismissed by 
Didier when the latter, on inheriting the property, finds 
the finances in bad condition. In the struggle that ensues 
between him and Didier, Grimbosq dies of sheer aggravation. 

In this role, Jouvet, now twenty-six, had to make up as an 

The Vieux-Colojnbier 31 

aged and wearied farmer. "When he appeared, bent and 
wrinkled with age, clad in the roughly woven clothes of the 
poor French peasantry, he realized his role .with ease, authen- 
ticity, and grace. For heyond the make-believe, Jouvet knew 
that the actor must reveal an essentially aesthetic structure, or, 
one may say, a unity of all the parts of the body. It is this 
aesthetic quality which gives keen satisfaction to the sensitive 
members of the audience who fully participate in the actor's 
art. Jouvet knew full well that not all in the audience came 
solely to be thrilled, although that also was a fundamental 
part of their pleasure. Jouvet had reached a higher level of 
acting in this role; and never, from then on, would one apply 
to him Garrick's criticism that French actors were lacking in 
grace and naturalness. 

The other members of the cast also achieved great distinct- 
ion. The play, however, was not successful. Although superbly 
done with tensions nicely sustained and balanced throughout, 
it failed in effect. 

A week later Jouvet played Ulasdislas, a young soldier of 
fortune, in a three -act comedy, Barberine, by Alfred de Musset. 
It conjured up the Hungary of the Middle Ages, when King 
Mathius Corvin was at war with the Turks. When produced 
in 1882 Barberine had a characteristic excess of decor. Copeau, 
whose aim was integrity, reduced the raise en scene to the 
simplest a chair, a table, and a cushion on the proscenium. 
The actor therefore had far more freedom to express himself, 
but the burden of projecting his character was without the 
support of a multiplicity of props, which might serve to conceal 
his inadequacies. It required a very subtle art to make this 
poetic fairy tale effective. 

Jouvet, in the role of Ulasdislas, appeared only in the first 
part of the play. Tall and stately, he protrayed the man of 
the world whose seductive powers had already been the talk 
of the town. The play enchanted the audiences and was re- 
peated fifty-two times. 18 

32 Forming an Artist 

Jouvet had portrayed a wide range of roles by this time, 
from the tragic to the comic and farcical, all of which had 
served excellently for his development. However, he was so 
diffident, despite his success, that he still thought whatever 
gifts he possessed were of a limited sort. Copeau, on the other 
hand, had a better understanding of J olivet's abilities and often 
would yield to his suggestions. He also gave Jouvet greater 
liberty of action which eventually was to arouse jealousies 
among the other members of the troupe. Copeau was the first, 
perhaps, to realize that Jouvet had the potentialities of be- 
coming a great specialist in Moliere's roles, roles for which 
Jouvet had thought himself entirely inadequate. 

As the lighting director Jouvet varied his techniques to 
such an extent that in a single play they might run the gamut 
of the most pastel-like delicacy to the most brilliant and 
dazzling; or, as a piece of pure bravura, they might radiate 
from all sides of the stage, in all colors, cross, crisscross, and 
finally merge to produce a wonderfully soothing and har- 
monious atmosphere. His dawns and sunsets, moon-risings or 
settings, his hot mellow summer suns all these were the 
products of Jouvet's fertile imagination and inventive resource- 
fulness. Once when called upon to project the atmosphere of 
Spain in daylight, he turned on all the lights to the full and 
flooded the stage till it was as warm and rich as amber. Jouvet, 
always fascinated by the idiom of light, even designed special 
lamps, which were called les Jouvets.^ 

Since Copeau, like Appia and Antoine before him, had done 
away with the footlights, considering them to be too harsh in 
their effects, Jouvet was given free reign to indulge in creating 
all sorts of effects with color by clever manipulation of the 
electrical equipment. For instance, in the scene of Master 
Frankford's nocturnal return in A Woman Killed with 
Kindness, the lights were blocked by solid objects, producing 
shadows on the proscenium with a mysterious sculpturesque 
effect which aroused a sense of awe and dramatic involvement 

The Vieux-Colombier 33 

on the part of the spectators. In U Amour Medecin, he filled 
the stage, as the Impressionists did their canvases, with splashes 
of bright light, creating a sense of unreserved delight, a clear 
utterance of joy and langhter. 

Copeau, intent on setting new dimensions for the French 
theatre, was to give Paris the best in classical plays. He pre- 
sented them with the contemporary point of view in mind. 
Though he was always keen for historical accuracy, he was 
contemporaneous in psychology; and he believed that the 
plays which had proved their worth in the past had also some- 
thing to say to the present. With these principles in mind he 
produced UAvare on November 18, 1913. Charles Dullin dis- 
tinguished himself as Harpagon and Jouvet passed unnoticed 
by the critics; he appeared in only one scene, in the insig- 
nificant role of Maitre Simon. But he was applauded for the 
sets he had designed and helped construct. La Farce du Saue- 
tier Enrage, a fifteenth -century anonymous play, was produced 
on December 22, and may be passed over since it was the least 
successful of all the plays in which Jouvet had a part. 

Jouvet's career until now, as far as the critics were concerned, 
had been a patchwork some warm commendations from the 
astute, like Andre Suares; on rare occasions, high praise; but 
mostly indifference, the critics in general ticketing him as a 
performer of small roles, occasionally showing flashes of talent* 
Whatever fame he had achieved was due to his skill with 
lights, and to some degree, to his stagecraft. What hopes he 
had of rising out of mediocrity would be hard to surmise. He 
was both reticent and honest, never seeking ascendancy by 
dubious or sensational methods; and it would be a good guess 
that this introspective man had thoughts on the gloomier side 
of the future. 

But suddenly, almost overnight, the whole prospect changed 
with the production of La Jalousie du Barbouille, a one-act 
play by Moliere. In this slight play, produced on January 1, 
1914, he made his mark as an actor and received his first re- 

34 Forming an Artist 

sounding acclaim. Moreover, the playwright from whom he 
had at first instinctively shied as being too formidable for his 
slender talents proved to suit him best and offered the means 
by which he came into prominence. 

La Jalousie du Barbouille was exactly the right vehicle for 
J onvet; and with the material given, he created one of the most 
outstanding characters in his repertoire. He revived it many 
times in later years when he was the director of his own theatre. 
In six brief sketches Jouvet portrayed Le Docteur as the perfect 
pedant, often in pure grotesque and sometimes standard comic 
effects, while making blunt dramatic use of the coarse language 
and stinging insults that punctuate the course of the play. The 
doctor's height was exaggerated and he was in turn talkative, 
clownish, pompous, stiff, and self-righteous. However, Jouvet's 
acting was natural and convincing, despite the distortions, 
paradoxical though it may seem. The audience responded in 
a way most rewarding to an actor, by not only relishing the 
characterization with pure fun and delight, but also by 
acknowledging its familiarity and unwittingly participating 
in the action on stage. 20 

The secret of Jouvet's success with the audience, in arousing 
such extraordinary response and recognition, lay in his doing 
what Copeau had suggested. He brought the role close to the 
hearts of the people, not merely by overstepping the confines 
of the stage, but by letting the exuberance of his humanity 
flow over into the audience. By so taking the spectators into 
his confidence, Jouvet gave them a sense of participation. This 
was not unduly difficult to accomplish, though it was a bold 
act on the part of the initiator since the character is not only 
traditionally familiar to the French, but is also a part of the 
complex human core. The pedant is universal. Though Jouvet 
resorted to caricature and the grotesque at times, he infused it 
with the breath of humanity. The narrow bridge between 
solemn sincerity and absurdity affords the firmest basis for 
true comedy since it enlists one's sympathy. Absurdities being 

The VieuX'Colombier 35 

present In all men, they give one the opportunity to laugh at 
one's fellows. 

In one way or another all people are pedants $ in their pre- 
tentious knowledge of people, books, art and politics, in their 
overvaluation of opinions, generally borrowed, and in their 
vanity in trumpeting them. The closer Jouvet approached 
human weaknesses in his role, the more convincing and force- 
ful he became, and the more explosively funny. He gave people 
an opportunity to laugh at themselves, without unduly damag- 
ing their amour propre since they were all born of the same 

Now it might be thought that with this outstanding success, 
Jouvet was "made." Had this happened in America, offers 
would have been telephoned at once from Hollywood. In this 
little theatre, Jouvet had no such total "success," but his talents 
were now recognized and taken into account. Moreover, this 
little theatre did not want "made" men who because of their 
success would tend to repeat themselves, and thus become 
automatons. Copeau was too much an artist and too astute a 
student of human nature to permit vainglory, followed by 
stagnation. And Jouvet unquestionably rejoiced in the rotation 
of roles since it kept his vanity within bounds and his talent 
vigorous by constantly fresh challenges. 

In the next production, Jouvet had a diametrically opposite 
role which he had to study and explore from a different angle. 
He had to get inside the heart of it and project the character 
as an understandable and living human being. The play, The 
Brothers Karamazov, was an adaptation by Copeau and Croue. 

This adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov had first been 
performed in France on April 6, 1911, at the Theatre des Arts, 
with Jouvet portraying the part of Father Zossima and Charles 
Dullin that of Smerdiakov. 21 

In this new production on February 10, 1914, Jouvet por- 
trayed the father, Feodor Pavlovitch Karamazov. He put so 
much zest into his characterisation, had such a fine grasp and 

36 Forming an Artist 

understanding of it, that he seemed to live the old debauched 
and decrepit sinner. 

His make-up consisted of a long white beard, a mustache, 
and a wig. He wore a smoking jacket In one scene, when the 
father is disputing with his sons, Jouvet, as the father, leans 
forward in his mahogany chair and looks blearily across the 
table at his two sons, his hands clutching the chair's arms, his 
face wearing an expression of cynical amorality. It was utterly 
convincing, and the critic, Matei Roussou, singled Jouvet out 
for praise when he wrote: 

One actor stands out from the troupe Jouvet. He's a terrific cynic, a 
guzzler, a drunkard, as it suits him. to be, and in spite of this, one per- 
ceives, now and then, a mystical flash in him, like a bit of blue sky 
amid the gray of the clouds. 23 

On March 23, 1914, the Vieux-Colombier started on its first 
foreign tour. A reshuffled troupe of fourteen people, eight 
men and six women, boarded the night train at the Gard du 
Nord. Such an endeavor was naturally attended by much ex- 
citement, though the tour was to last only a few days. However, 
its brevity did not serve to lessen the troupe's nervous tension. 
The prospect awakened speculation about possible failure 
among certain of the actors, and particularly Jouvet. What 
would their reception be in a foreign land? Would the language 
barrier have a discouraging effect in England? What would 
the English think of their spare stage sets, their simplicity, 
and their radical approach to productions, both modern and 
classic? 23 

The next evening Copeau's troupe presented Barberine, Le 
Pain de Menage, and La Jalousie du Barbouille at the Reper- 
tory Theatre directed by John Drinkwater in London. Drink- 
water was a young poet and a member of the British Poetry 
and Drama Group. 24 Wednesday morning the troupe left for 
Liverpool and twice produced the same program at the David 
Lewis Club Theatre. On Thursday afternoon, they arrived at 
Manchester and gave the same plays at the Midland Theatre. 

The Vieux-Colombier 37 

That very night the actors left for London, arriving at six 
o'clock in the morning. They were enthusiastically welcomed 
in His Majesty's Theatre by its director, Beerb ohm-Tree. At 
the first performance the French Ambassador had a private 
box and the elite of French and English society attended. The 
same plays were given. On Saturday of that same week the 
troupe left London and arrived in Paris early enough to give 
The Brothers Karamazov in their own theatre. Of the three 
plays given in England, Barberine by Musset was the most 
popular. 25 The English audience readily understood and ap- 
preciated the wit and poetry of the adventures of Baron Rosen- 
berg. On the other hand, La Jalousie du Barbouille was found 
to be coarse and in bad taste. 26 On the whole, however, the 
English were delighted by the performances; the event was a 
new and refreshing theatrical experience for them. 27 Accord- 
ing to one account, the Vieux-Colombier had done more for 
the theatrical reputation of the French during that brief trip 
than a large commercial company would have accomplished 
with all its famous stars in a year of showing. 28 

When the troupe returned to Paris, it set to work on its new 
production, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The play, translated 
by Thomas Lascaris, was a melange of poetry, wit, sentiment, 
drama, and farce. The actors succeeded magnificently in re- 
creating the Shakespearian spirit, generous in its use of color, 
poetry, highflown hyperbole, and magnificent impudence. 
They enjoyed speaking the famous Elizabethan lines, running 
the gamut of blitheness, from exquisite delicacy to emphatic 
bluntness and sometimes tortured rhetoric. 

Twelfth Night was produced at a critical juncture in the life 
of the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier. Its fortunes, up to this 
point had wavered and its finances were insecure : it had never 
quite firmly established itself. Individual actors, like Jouvet, 
had had outstanding successes but the troupe as a whole, in 
comparison to the boulevard theatres, had not achieved any 
remarkable success. Copeau, fundamentally a practical man, 

38 Forming an Artist 

realized that the future of his theatre was at stake, so much so, 
that its very life might hang on the success or failure of 
Twelfth Night. He put more energy and planning than ever 
into this production. 

Twelfth Night opened on May 22, 1914 There was much 
confusion at the last moment, some of it vastly amusing; for 
instance, the sight of Duncan Grant, the English painter, 
Bespattered from head to foot with paint, rushing madly after 
the actors with brush in hand, adding finishing touches to the 
already extraordinarily conceived costumes. 29 

Jouvet gave close study to his part and the text. He appeared 
as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, "the puppet on lead-strings of tra- 
gedy," 30 and he was so amusing in his portrayal that Jacques 
Copeau said of him : 

JThat one over there, whom we see from behind walking backwards, his 

hi tnd on the hilt of his sword, his sleeve flowing, his arched-leg in a flame 

ccfolored stocking and his head crowned with an azure-colored top hat in 

't/hich two rose-colored wings have been inserted, that is Sir Andrew 

Aguecheek, Master Jouvet in person. Jouvet perhaps has never acted a 

comic role with more savory naivete, more delicacy or more poetry. 31 

With his rare comic gift, Jouvet embellished the part with 
strokes of genius. At times, Sir Andrew Aguecheek was a 
scared puppet, at other moments when he stood proudly erect 
and dignified, his silhouette delicately defined, he might have 
been mistaken for a prince. Jou vet's way of interpreting the 
character, the voice constantly out of breath, the undecided 
facial expression, the long-legged waddling effect of his walk, 
seemed to be the essence of puerility and silliness, but it was 
a great achievement of the creative imagination. He would 
vary his interpretation when, for instance, his face lit up like 
a clown's with a certain impish air; then a sadness would 
pervade it, an illuminating quality of mournful self-knowledge 
and knowledge of the evil in the world. 32 

Jouvet, the skinny, gawky, absurd Aguecheek, was as ludi- 
crous as his seventeenth-century counterpart, Gaultier-Gar- 
guille. When his friend, Sir Toby (R. Bouquet) , whose costume 

The Vieux-Colombier 39 

emphasized his girth, bounded forth on the stage, he was the 
reincarnation of Gros Guillaume. When Fabien (Antoine Ca- 
riff a) , perhaps the modern Turlupin, joined the two clowns, 
and when they then pranced, danced and finally fell aE over 
each other, bedlam broke loose in the audience, 33 

Sir Toby: I could marry this wench for this device. 

Sir Andrew: So could I too. 

Sir T: And ask no other dowry with her but such another jest. 

Sir A: Nor I neither. 

Fabian: Here comes my noble gull-catcher. 

(Re-enter Maria. They prostrate 

themselves before her.) 
Sir T: Wilt thon set thy foot o' my neck? 
Sir A: Or o' mine either? 

Sir T: Shall I play my freedom at tray-trip, and become thy bond slave? 
Sir A: I* faith, or I either? 

As usual, there was little scenery for the play. Olivia's round 
room, where most of the action took place, had blue walls, a 
green semicircular bench, two flowering bushes, and a stair- 
case. When the scene changed to the Duke Orsino's palace, the 
background consisted of pink drapes. When the action took 
place out of doors, the color of the drapes changed to indicate 
the passing from twilight to "dawn. The drapes, on which the 
lights poured their luminous tints, produced a varied and 
enriching atmosphere. In each scene the lighting was altered, 
thus projecting a variety of stimulating colors and spotlighting 
the actors. 

After a charming little clown drew the curtains at the finale, 
all the actors came on stage: Maria on the arm of Toby, the 
clown on Fabien's shoulders, the Countess with Sebastien, the 
Duke with Viola; then followed Andrew Aguecheek, Malvolio, 
the Captain of the Guards, and the ladies in waiting. They all 
stood together on the proscenium, which glittered with the 
colors of the rainbow: reds, greens, yellows and blues. The 
colors, together with the simpler lighting effects, created a 
strikingly brilliant impression. 34 

Twelfth Night was acclaimed by the critics as the Vieux- 

40 Forming an Artist 

Colombier's most outstanding production. 35 It glowed in one's 
memory with a procession of unforgettable images. Claude 
Roger-Marx wrote: 

The simplification of tiie stage sets adapted at the Vieux-Colombier, the 
frequent use of draperies, gives free reign to dreaming. As for the inter- 
pretation, it reveals a comprehension of the work, an understanding which 
governs the stndying and distribution of the roles. Let us admire the fact 
that, having sprung from a literary group, this theatre remains in such 
direct contact with life. 36 

Thus the Vieux-Colombier's first season ended on a triumphant 
note. 37 

The year was 1914, and there was the lengthening shadow 
of what seemed inevitable war. On June 28, the Archduke 
Francis Ferdinand, heir-presumptive to the throne of Austria- 
Hungary, and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo. In Au- 
gust, 1914, when war broke out, all the able-bodied men in 
Copeau's troupe were called upon to serve their country. 

Jouvet was sent to the front; Copeau went into the auxiliary 
forces; Dullin, an infantryman, to Lorraine. Other members 
of the troupe were scattered over the warring area. Jouvet 
remained in the army from 1914 to 1917. 

But during those years of destruction, sadness, and despair, 
Jouvet never lost contact with Copeau. Lodged in dirty and 
wet barracks, often exposed to danger, they managed to corres- 
pond frequently. In their letters, they discussed such matters 
as a new school of acting which Copeau had, for a long time, 
very much at heart. Copeau was brimming with new ideas 
even during this repressive and turbulent period. Most of all, 
he wanted to open a school in which he could mold talented 
young children of high-school age and make genuine actors of 
them, actors without the faults and routine accretions of those 
trained in the commercial theatres. His school would feature 
a well-rounded and extremely ambitious program courses in 
speech, the history of drama, physical education, the architec- 
ture and construction of theatres, singing, reading, the we! 1 - 

The Vieux-Colombier 41 

known analysis of the text, and the dancing advocated by 
Hyppolite Clairon. 

Such was Copeau's plan. At the Base of the structure would 
stand human beings, disciplined men and women, who, when 
graduated, would feed his theatre with constantly new and 
productive talents. In this way the Vieux-Colombier would 
never become ossified or lack fresh human material or bold 
minds to throw new light on classical or modern plays. 

Jouvet favored Copeau's ideas and believed that the new 
school could seed and stimulate the progress of the modern 
theatre. After his demobilization, Copeau visited Gordon 
Craig, the son of Ellen Terry and an internationally famous 
scenic designer. Craig had founded a school in Florence in 
1913 which was forced to close in 1914. How&yer, he continued 
to live in Florence, adumbrating plans for a new school to be 
founded when the war would cease. It was his tenet, and one 
supported by Copeau and Jouvet, that actors must absorb all 
that there is to be known about the theatre carpentry, costume 
making, lighting, drawing, and so forth. Craig and Copeau talk- 
ed at great length about trends in the theatre and possibilities 
for future developments in stage settings. Copeau learned a 
great deal from Craig, though he did not accept Craig's ground 
for disposing of the unpredictable human actor in favor of pre- 
dictable marionettes. Then Copeau went to Geneva to meet 
Dalcroze, who was then enjoying a great vogue. Dalcroze's 
philosophy was based on the firm belief that rhythmic dancing 
should be taught to enable the actor to coordinate his bodily 
movements with his speech. Copeau consulted Dalcroze on 
the best methods of organizing rhythmical dancing classes. 38 
Most of what he heard was not new to Copeau, but these as- 
sociations helped to convince him more than ever of the 
necessity of establishing a school of theatre on the broad basis 
he had contemplated. Dalcroze introduced him to Adolphe 
Appia, who stressed the affinities that must exist between 
music and dialogue. Appia also championed the creation of 

42 Forming an Artist 

a three-dimensional stage. Since the actor is a three-dimen- 
sional being, he argued, so should be the background, which 
reflects, adds and suggests so much of what the actor does. 
Copeau, who admired and was influenced by this innovator, 
was further encouraged to go on with his project. 39 

Once back in Paris in November 1915, Copeau coordinated 
his efforts with those of Suzanne Bing, an outstanding actress 
in his troupe who had worked on the school project during 
his absence. They were now in a position to open the school 
within the month, starting with a dozen pupils, boys and girls, 
under the age of twenty. The initial training began with the 
students imitating animal sounds, assuming the shapes of trees, 
benches, and other inanimate objects in order to make their 
bodies supple and adaptable for any theatrical purpose. Varied 
improvisations, rhythmic attitudes, and the use of masks were 
part of their training. 40 

The war was still going on and during those black years the 
French government wanted to send an Ambassador of the Arts 
to the United States to introduce both French culture and the 
new theatrical methods to the American people. This, the 
government hoped, would strengthen the bonds of sympathy 
between the two nations. On January 20, 1917, the French 
Ministry of Fine Arts sent Copeau to New York as France's 
unofficial cultural ambassador of good will. There he de- 
livered six lectures at the Little Theatre. The effect of these 
lectures was such that Otto Kahn invited Copeau to bring his 
troupe to the United States. That same year, most of Copeau's 
cast had been demobilized at his request. Copeau had asked 
the Ministry of Fine Arts for their release so that they could 
participate in the cultural project and insure its success. 
Jouvet and Dullin were among the exceptions. 41 

A short time later, through the intervention of Georges 
Duhamel, doctor, future novelist, and former prompter at the 
Vieux-Colombier, Louis Jouvet, on sick leave in Paris, was 
able to obtain his release. 42 Charles Dullin, however, was re- 

The Vieux-Colombier 43 

fused demobilization and did not join the group in New York 
until several months later. 

When the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier reached New York 
City in November, 1917, Jouvet, who had preceded It, met it 
at the pier. His face radiated satisfaction and pride becanse 
he had helped to remodel the Garrick Theatre where the 
troupe would stage Its plays. 43 

New York at this period had a large French colony with 
a number of French musical and theatrical artists in it. The 
inimitable diseuse, Yvette Guilbert, sang her songs and ballads 
before enthusiastic audiences; Pierre Monteux, the conductor, 
was in the ascendant. Jacques Thibaud, the violonist, Robert 
Casadesus, the pianist, and the Capet quartet were visiting 
the United States. Now a pioneering theatre was to be added 
to the list. 

Awaiting it expectantly and with considerable awe were 
the indigenous theatrical groups, such as the Toy Theatre of 
Boston, the Chicago Little Theatre, WInthrop Ames* Little 
Theatre, and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. In 
1914 Robert Edmond Jones, Lawrence Langner, Lee Simon- 
son, and others had organized the Washington Square Players, 
which produced one-act plays in the rear of a Greenwich 
Village store, and in 1919 incorporated itself as the Theatre 

Copeau and his sponsors thought the Vieux-Colombier 
could make a highly worthwhile artistic contribution to the 
American theatre. Once again there was to be a great stir of 
excitement on opening night in New York, November 27, 
1917. L 9 Impromptu du Vieux-Colombier by Jacques Copeau 
and Moliere's Fourberies de Scapin were to be the Introduc- 
tory plays. The first was patterned on Moliere's Impromptu 
de Versailles, and Louis Jouvet played himself, a member of 
the Vieux-Colombier troupe. In the second play, he played 
Geronte, the father. The evening was to conclude with the 
Couronnement de Moliere, after which Copeau's son, Pascal, 

44 Forming an Artist 

aged nine, was to put a wreath of flowers on Moliere's bust. 44 
As was usual in Vieux-Colombier productions, the sets for 
the Fourberies de Scapin were to create the appropriate atmos- 
phere. The stage was merely a gray desert; the only piece of 
scenery was a small platform-like structure. In 1917, after 
much thought on the subject, both Copeau and Jouvet had 
decided to construct an apparatus, which was most unusual 
in conception a small platform, consisting of four large 
squares of wood, abutted by five staircases, with four steps in 
each; and three cubes, which, when assembled, served as a 
bench between the two front staircases. 45 Copeau said: 

The stage is already action, it gives material form to the action, and when 
the stage is occupied hy the actors, when it is penetrated by action in- 
carnate then the stage itself disappears. 46 

Like Appia, Copeau never ceased to stress the interdependence 
of the play, the actors and the stage setting. 

The curtains are drawn on a bare stage with the platform- 
like structure in the center, and, in the rear, a semicircular 
orange velvet curtain. In act II, the agitated Argante, father 
of Octave and Zerbinette, appears on the stage gripping his 
hat with one hand and with the other wiping his face free 
of perspiration. Louis Jouvet, as Geronte, on the contrary, is 
calm, takes short steps and holds a parasol over his head. In 
this production, Geronte did not carry the traditional cane, 
but a parasol, which constituted an interesting innovation in 
itself. Copeau and Jouvet thought that the parasol could more 
fittingly express the crotchets of his character; it also had the 
realistic function of protecting him from the torrid Neapolitan 
sun. Here is psychological suggestiveness derived from the 
use of a single object. In the course of the play Jouvet opens 
the parasol, closes it, strikes the ground with it, drags it behind 
him, and eventually uses it as a weapon, all of which is 
pantomimic and its significance is easily grasped by the 
audience. 47 
Jouvet as the vieil os Geronte, stood in striking contrast to 

The Vieux-Colombier 45 

Scapin, played by Jacques Copeau. 48 Geronte was physically 
decrepit and a victim of contending emotions avarice, terror, 
rage, and humiliation. Jotivet gave all these feelings full scope 
and made excellent use of his almost vocal parasol, rendering 
the characterization with admirable breadth and humor. The 
repeated cry "What the devil was he doing there?" was de- 
livered with mounting force, yet with an infinite variety of 
comic overtones. Scapin incorporated the spirit of mischief 
and ridicule in Moliere. He was robust and clever, youthful 
and racy the opposite of Geronte in every respect. There was 
continual contrapuntal interplay between these characters, as 
in the commedia dell'arte. 4 * The actors sought to interpret 
the play as Moliere himself might have done, with dancing, 
high spirits and light-footed comedy; none of it was declaimed, 
as was so often the case at the Conservatoire, none of it was 
stilted, the words flowed naturally and with consummate 

However, not many American critics appreciated Copeau's 
innovations. They were conditioned to their own traditional 
theatre, with its fast pace, its variety in stage sets and flat 
characterizations. Louis Defoe's criticism in the New York 
World was characteristic of the reaction of American critics. 
He maintained that the play was merely a strenuous, turbulent 
farce, and far from being adequate proof of the troupe's merits 
as artists or innovators. 50 Arthur Hornblow wrote that any 
actor could do as well as the French troupe if similarly trained 
in dancing and the like. 51 The grand qualities of the play were 
lost on the critics. A simple comedy, such as this, is rich in 
its implications, saucy and gay. The American critics, sur- 
feited as they were by the harsh and glittering obviousness 
of the American theatre, thought it thin. The pure spirit of 
comedy, playing upon passions and foibles of simple human 
beings could not hold them; it seemed not only superficial, 
but unsophisticated surprising, coming from the French. 
Copeau was disheartened, for the play that had delighted 

46 Forming an Artist 

Parisian audiences was considered a cheap piece of buffoonery 
in America. Fortunately for Copeau, Prosper Merimee's Le 
Carrosse du Saint Sacrement produced on December 5, 1917, 
met with a "rare triumph." 52 In this short play, Jouvet acted 
the part of the unctuous and slimy Archbishop of Lima. He 
also designed and constructed the sets and created the lighting 

The play takes place in the eighteenth century; the scene, 
the office of the Viceroy of Lima. Don Adres de Ribera, the 
Viceroy (Jacques Copeau), is completely infatuated with his 
mistress, the coquettish Perichole (Valentine Tessier). The 
play reveals her strength and his weakness. The costumes are 
colorful. It is interesting to observe that the characters appear 
on the stage in the order of the intensity of the colors of their 
costumes; that is, the first person to appear, the Viceroy's 
secretary, wears brownish-yellow. The Viceroy himself ap- 
pears next in a golden brocaded costume which seems to glitter 
under the lights; then La Perichole with her green, pink, and 
yellow dress and her Spanish mantilla. Later, the archbishop 
appears in his violet robes, skull cap, and white lace surplice. 
He stands out in sharp contrast to the other clergymen, all in 
dusty black robes. A bright lemon-yellow light floods the 
stage and recreates the atmosphere of Peru. The scenery con- 
sisted of four bright green plants, surrounding the desk of 
the Viceroy. A drape, stained with a medley of bright colors, 
served as an exit-entrance. 

Copeau finally yielded somewhat to the American audiences 9 
tastes and produced forty-five plays during his stay in New 
York, one every week. This meant new costumes, new sets, 
new accessories, all created and fashioned by a handful of 
very busy men and women. Jouvet was also electrician, de- 
corator, and stagehand. He worked steadily on all types of 
jobs and had little time for sightseeing. Consequently, his 
impressions of New York City were superficial and thus un- 

The Vieux-Colombier 47 

The troupe continued to give performances, some of which 
met with a certain amount of success, like the Carrosse du Saint 
Sacrement, and others, like the Fourberies de Scapin, which 
were dismal failures. On Christmas day, 1917, Copeau once 
again put on Twelfth Night, his most outstanding Parisian 
success, this time for American audiences. Arthur Hornblow 
called it a "gem of perfection," 53 in contrast to his derogatory 
criticism of Copeau's opening night. A month later, on January 
23, 1918, The Brothers Karamazov was performed and was 
considered one of the Vieux-Colombier's most successful 
plays. 54 But the tour was also plagued with a series of devas- 
tating failures, among which were Octave Mirbeau's Les 
Mauvais Bergers, Meilhac and Halevy's La Petite Marquise, 
and Courteline's La Paix chez So. 55 Les Mauvais Bergers 
met with the worst reception of all. The audience deserted 
the theatre during the course of the play on opening night, 
February 20, 1917. 56 After this failure, Copeau fell back on a 
classic play, UAvare by Moliere. Much to the troupe's sur- 
prise, the audience was greatly impressed by Dullin's por- 
trayal of Harpagon, and the evening was considered by the 
unpredictable critics to be one of the outstanding perfor- 
mances of the Vieux-Colombier season in New York. 

There were a few discerning critics who appreciated Co- 
peau's efforts. Herbert J. Seligmann of the Globe and Com- 
mercial Advertiser wrote: 

If there were American producers who could present plays with half the 
intelligence and imaginative economy with which U Amour Medecin was 
given last night the word "classic" would lose its terrors and we should 
see crowds flocking to performances of Shakespeare and Marlowe. 51 

But on the whole, the French theatre in New York had a 
limited appeal. In the first place, there was the language 
barrier. Moreover, the appeal was mainly to students or those 
interested in one way or another in French life and culture. 
Some called Copeau a snob because the tickets were priced 
too high and the appeal seemed to be to the elite. But as the 

48 Forming an Artist 

season progressed and as the troupe introduced new plays, 
it acquired many friends and most of the old ones remained 
faithful. However, the critics as a body were still writing 
condescending and unfavorable notices. With the exception 
of Le Carrosse du Saint Sacrement, Twelfth Night, L'Avare, 
and The Brothers Karamazov, accounting for a quarter of the 
total performances, the productions failed to make any strong 
impression. 58 

Copeau repaid the slights with critical disdain for the 
American public. But when he realized how many friends 
he had made in America and the extent to which he had in- 
fluenced the American theatre, he made a more just appraisal. 
However, in his second season in New York, he included plays 
with more popular appeal for Americans, though he considered 
them of little value. He also used traditional stage sets in 
these plays. 59 

During the summer months, his troupe rehearsed at Morris- 
town, New Jersey, on the estate of Otto Kahn. There, as at 
Le Limon, they performed out-of-doors. In four months they 
prepared twenty-eight plays, of which twenty-three had never 
before been performed by them. 

Copeau opened the new season of 1918 with Bernstein's Le 
Secret, a play which David Belasco had produced with great 
success on Broadway three years previously. The production 
of this play was one of Copeau's concessions to American taste; 
he never would have done this type of thing in France. He 
produced the facile plays of Erckmann-Chatrian, Augier and 
Sandeau, Brieux, Hervieu, Rostand, Capus, Donnay, and Du- 
mas fils, for they were plays he was certain would draw a 
crowd. His assumptions were correct During this second 
season, the Old Garrick Theatre was generally filled to ca- 
pacity, and there was considerable profit made. But this sort 
of success really pleased nobody in the troupe. They were 
artists who felt the disgrace of cheap compromise. However, 
since they were in a foreign country and emissaries of the 

The Vieux-Colombier 49 

French government, they probably could not have done other- 

During the second season, only one play a week was pro- 
duced, instead of three. Jouvet himself was very busy design- 
ing sets for and acting in the new productions. He acted the 
part of Brid'Oison in the Marriage of Figaro and "sent a 
chuckle through the audience when he appeared as the lieuten- 
ant." 60 In Blanchette by Brieux, Charles Dullin as Pere Rous- 
set "as well as Louis Jouvet as the peace-making Cantonnier 
were, needless to say, again at their best." In Crainquebille, a 
play adapted from the story of Anatole France: 

The pathetic and so radically innocent character of Crainquebille found 
in Jouvet a distinctly fine and subtle interpreter. He added, it is true, 
somewhat more humor to the characterization than Anatole France origin- 
ally had in mind, but it was not out of place. One feels that such a 
miserably homeless vagrant as Crainquebille must have a sense of dolorous 
humor to be at all able to keep his head up. 61 

During this second season in New York, Jouvet became 
Copeau's right-hand man, and one on whose judgment Copeau 
could depend. It was also at this time that Jouvet began to 
reflect more seriously about the art of acting and, in fact, 
about all phases of the theatre. As was to be expected, he gave 
the human being first importance in a play, and considered 
the plot secondary. The audience will forget plots and details; 
tut it will delight in remembering fine characterizations which 
reveal some basic manifestation of humanity, like Tartuffe, 
the universal hypocrite. The impression made by the actor, 
or rather the force of the characterization itself, will linger 
and recall the various threads and entanglements in the plot. 62 

Furthermore, Louis Jouvet categorically stated that an actor 
will never be able to interpret fully all the facets of the charac- 
ter he is portraying. In Moliere's plays, for instance, the 
characters such as Don Juan, Tartuffe, and Sganarelle, have 
subtle and complex traits which may elude the actor. Or 
perhaps an actor may want to project certain of these traits and 
bring them out in a way that other actors failed to do. The 

50 Forming an Artist 

actor must live a long time with the character to assimilate it 
thoroughly. He must have a creative imagination in order to 
give his portrayal the force of reality; so that it may he said 
of the actor, that while he is portraying the part, he is that 
very person, so strong and impelling must be the illusion 
sustained throughout the play. 63 Great dramatic artists are 
inexhaustible in interpretation and each sees the character ac- 
cording to his own lights and the cultural atmosphere of the 
time in which he lives, 

And yet, Jouvet had not rebelled against Diderot's Paradoxe 
sur le Comedien, nor did he agree with Mile Clairon's un- 
emotional approach to acting, or disagree with the opinion of 
the Voltaire-trained Marie-Frangois Dumesnil. Jouvet had 
studied the niceties of these different systems of acting, but 
suspended any judgment about them since his own principles 
were still in the process of crystallization. 

Keenly aware as he was of their shortcomings in the light 
of human experience, Jouvet generally took a highly critical 
attitude toward both modern and classical playwrights* But 
Moliere was supreme and Jouvet's absolute favorite. However, 
his was not a timid or even aloof admiration. Jouvet did not 
worship Moliere as a classic. He treated him as a contempo- 
rary and an intimate, and Moliere had a way of kindling 
Jouvet and bringing out the best in him as an actor. 

Jouvet's silhouette of Sganarelle in Le Medecin Malgre Lui, 
produced on November 25, 1918 in New York during the 
second season, was as striking as the best of Daumier's carica- 
tures. Sganarelle pranced, he mimicked, he was truculent. 
Jouvet gave vivid form and symmetry to his portrayal. His 
sensitive artistry impelled him to weave the action into a 
living design, which in turn made for delightful and colorful 
visual impressions. With high humor and abounding spirit, 
he went into a frenzy of self-intoxication when he spoke those 
well-known pseudo-erudite lines in the consultation scene. 

Jouvet saw Sganarelle as a rude woodcutter with a heavy 

The Vieux-Colombier 51 

red beard, even though Marline, Sganarelle's wife, described 
him as being "a man with a large black beard." In addition 
to the red beard, he wore a mustache, with a trim unknown 
in the seventeenth century. But this departure from historical 
accuracy went unnoticed by American critics. 

In Act I, scene 6, Sganarelle is seated on a log, drinking and 
singing. Geronte's valet and steward approach him; standing 
on either side of him, they bow obsequiously and respectfully 
raise their hats. But Sganarelle pays no heed to them. At the 
finale of the scene, Sganarelle- Jouvet, half drunk, red-faced, 
and holding a bottle in his hand, falls over backwards, his 
legs flying straight up so that his face, with its flaming red 
beard, is framed between his long legs. Here Jouvet yields 
completely to the spirit of clowning. In his interpretation he 
ran the gamut of emotions, from light drama to comedy and 
outright farce; and his characterization was so completely in- 
tegrated that it was constantly recognizable, human, vital, and 
vastly entertaining. 

The stage setting was the same as that of the Fourberies de 
Scapin. However, the actor's gestures were much broaden 
The production was patterned after those of antiquity, in 
which emotions were simplified. The actors wore masks to 
symbolize their basic passions. And Copeau retained the 
scene with the two peasants which the Comedie-Frangaise had 
so often eliminated. 

The troupe gave a finished performance, and the fresh and 
spirited approach to Moliere reinforced the sound classical 
style of the play. Indeed, Jouvet and Copeau understood the 
real nature of the classical. Within its framework, there is 
vitality and humanity involved in a plot that spins itself out 
to a definite conclusion (in Moliere's case generally a happy 
one) . Jouvet and Copeau aimed for and successfully achieved 
all these elements. 64 

On December 2, 1918, the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier per- 
formed Ibsen's Rosmersholm, in which Jouvet played the part 

52 Forming an Artist 

of TJlric Brendel. A week later it produced Angler and San- 
dean's Le Gendre de M. Poirier in which he played the Mar- 
quis; Les Caprices de Marianne followed on the 15th of the 
same month. John Corbin writing for the New York Times 
noted that: 

. . . the Claudio of Jouvet was far more happy in its humoresque oddities 
than in its moments of sinister truculence. The play unfortunately suffered 
from having its many scenes acted upon a multiple stage. This occurred 
everywhere and nowhere. But the fatal mistake was the actress cast for 
Marianne. 65 

In the Fardeau de la Liberte, a one-act play hy Tristan Ber- 
nard, given on the 16th, Jouvet played Chambolin and in 
Edmond Rostand's Les Romanesques, presented on the 23d, he 
was Straford. 

In La Coupe Enchantee, a one-act play by La Fontaine and 
Champsmesle, produced on February 17, 1919, Jouvet portray- 
ed Josselin, the pedant. He interpreted Ms part in a straight- 
laced and solemn manner. Josselin was the tutor, engaged by 
a rich nobleman who had been deceived by his wife and who 
had become a woman-hater. Josselin's duty was to see to it 
that the nobleman's young son neither saw nor met anyone of 
the opposite sex. When Jouvet appeared, dressed in black, 
with a broad-brimmed pointed hat which seemed to accentuate 
the inflexibility of his character, black framed glasses, thin 
eye brows pointing up his empty stare, and long stringy hair, 
he was exactly what one imagined seventeenth-century pedants 
to be. In this role, he made great use of his forearms in a 
variety of gestures to convey his reactions to the audience. It 
was often characteristic of Jouvet to use one part of his body, 
an arm or a leg, to express the whole man's feeling. Only a very 
fine mime can do this effectively; only a sensitive spectator 
can fully appreciate the extent of this artistic accomplishment, 
which seems simple since it is based on the technique of the 
clown. But a clown's techniques, such as those of the Fratellini 
brothers, are far from being simple; they are drastic simplifi- 
cations of gestures, emphatically direct, which achieve a simple 

The Vieux-Colombier 53 

powerful and often devastating effect. Jouvet owed as much 
to the clown as he did to the realistic actor, and by now he 
was so well trained that he could pass from one to the other 
with ease. Thus, in its simple stage setting, La Coupe Enchantee 
pulsated with color and fantasy, while remaining always bas- 
ically true to life, since both poet and clown portray life on 
a highly imaginative plane. 

In the much-discussed Misanthrope produced on April 17, 
1919, Jouvet portrayed Philinte. It is important to observe 
that Copeau did not treat the Misanthrope as a highly didactic 
play, as had been customary, but as a comedy. Alceste and 
Philinte do not descant at length on their philosophies of life. 
On the contrary, they are quite normal and understandable 
human beings. Copeau's was a fresh, intimate, and direct 
conception, which brought the play close to the modern audi- 
ences. 66 However, the critic Gabriel Boissy wrote that Jouvet's 
interpretation of Philinte lent a discordant note to the play. 67 

On April 7, 1919, the Vieux-Colombier gave its final perfor- 
mance in America a revival of La Coupe Enchantee. The 
actors had achieved some brilliant successes in the course of 
two years, and suffered a good many failures, but most im- 
portant, the group had imparted its passion for all phases of 
the French theatre to many American actors and directors. 

Jouvet had personally gained in confidence, though his 
stay in New York can hardly be said to have been made easy 
for him. He worked hard, physically as well as mentally, in 
almost every phase of the theatre. But the total effect of his 
efforts failed very much to impress the average American 

Many people believe that actors carry their acting habits 
into real life, taking on false airs. The contrary might be 
said of Jouvet. He brought the naturalness of his everyday 
life to the stage, and his intonations were devoid of theatri- 
cality or misplaced emphasis; in realistic parts, he seemed to 
be talking to a close friend. Of course, this almost literal or 

54 Forming an Artist 

muted quality disappeared when it was necessary to exaggerate 
an emotion or do a bit of clowning. Jouvet could make almost 
all of his interpretations ring true, no matter how complex, 
because he brought a penetrating insight to his conceptions 
and knew how to simplify the complex. 

Jouvet was a highly emotional man, yet he Impressed some 
people as being cold and unfeeling. There was perhaps a 
reason for this impression. He had been frustrated in his 
youth; he had been rejected by the Conservatoire three times; 
he was a stutterer, and his ambitions had been thwarted by 
his family. The net result was a guarded manner which sug- 
gested more than a hint of coolness to those who did not know 
him well. Moreover, because of these frustrations, he retained 
an Ingrained dread of failure. Though he had already been 
much applauded and acclaimed, he was still to some extent 
unsure of himself and he expressed his deeply personal 
opinions only to his closest friends. This tendency toward 
aloofness, I is way of shielding himself from the world, in- 
hibited him from being spontaneous, except with those very 
close to him. Few could be said to have known all of Jouvet, 
Jouvet plain. 8 This relationship with people suited Jouvet. 
He had always entertained a deep dread of exposing himself 
to the world. Moreover, his tendency to hide and withdraw 
from close association, to wrap himself in mystery, was marked 
in his characterizations in which he would frequently assume 
mask-like attitudes. In Twelfth Night, for instance, he was 
half hidden under a ludicrous costume, and his face was con- 
cealed by masklike make-up. He disliked playing any part 
which would fully expose his face. As Philinte he wore a wig; 
as Sganarelle he wore a beard and colored his face to such an 
extent that it was not recognizable. In The Brothers Karama- 
zov his violently distorted face was that of an old, weak, and 
lecherous sinner. If one were to enumerate the many parts in 
which Jouvet sought a curious kind of concealment, the list 
would be long and would suggest the conclusion that he had 

The Vieux-Colombier 55 

a psychological dread of revealing himself, even physically, to 
the public. For this reason, perhaps, his portrayals achieved a 
more vivid reality, since by throwing himself completely into 
the role to lose himself in it, he developed more amply the 
character portrayed. 69 

It was natural and fitting that J olivet should take this pro- 
tective mask from the theatre, for this made possible a marriage 
between dread and exhibitionism, in which dread was trans- 
muted by a singular self-hypnosis into joy joy at the moment 
when he escaped himself and was lost in his characterization; 
then the two were one. 

In 1919, the war was over and the Vieux-ColomMer was again 
in Paris. It was now a mature group of actors which had had 
the satisfaction of seeing its contribution to the theatre ac- 
cepted in foreign lands. Despite the misunderstandings and 
sometimes obtuse criticisms in New York, the body of critics 
realized, after the termination of its visit, that this French 
theatre had in some way been wonderful, and had sown the 
seeds of sound theatrical principles In American soil. Their 
success, It might be said, came as an aftermath, after due 
reflection by the critics on what the Vieux-Colombler had ac- 
complished in America. In Paris they were more highly 
esteemed than ever. They had become a focal point of attrac- 
tion for many of the finest writers, artists, and actors in Europe, 
and were to continue to thrive in this friendly atmosphere, with 
results beneficial to all concerned with the arts. 

Once back in Paris, however, Copeau again made changes 
in his theatre. The stage would of course be bare as usual. 
This time, however, it would be far forward; in the rear, 
would be installed a balcony supported by four columns which 
could be concealed by a drape whenever necessary. The bal- 
cony would have three exits. Two towers would stand on 
either side of the stage, four in all, each with a door, a staircase, 
and a window. A removable platform would run forward of the 
stage, on a slightly lower level; this would provide for an 

56 "Forming an Artist 

extension of the stage when the action demanded it. The ex- 
tension would also provide for varied exits and entrances. The 
stage would be constructed of removable cement blocks. 70 

On February 10, 1920, the troupe once again felt the excite- 
ment of an opening night, but how different this opening was 
from the first in 1913. The actors were now trained to the peak 
of perfection. The troupe was still intact with one exception ; 
Dullin had broken with Copeau in New York. The actors had 
an emotional rapport with their audiences, which gave them 
a fuller sense of appreciation and sympathetic collaboration. 
So here there existed a rare esprit de corps. It would be con- 
sidered almost indiscreet, on the part of friends of the troupe, 
to single out one actor for special praise and to put him above 
the others because it would disturb the atmosphere of 
equality, dedication, and craftmanship that prevailed. 

They opened the season with Shakespeare's The Winters 
Tale. Both Copeau and Jouvet loved Shakespeare and read 
and reread his plays year in and year out. Never since 
Elizabethan times had the theatre offered scripts comparable 
to Shakespeare's, which afforded actors infinite possibilities 
to express passion, poetry, wit, and to move with grace and 
beauty. Never since then had the actor had such freedom of 
movement on the stage, while audiences participated in the 
action with imaginative abandon. The Elizabethans had en- 
larged the forestage around which the audience sat, and 
therefore the audience had multiple contact with the players. 
The Italians, during the Renaissance, did the opposite, 
pushing the stage back behind a proscenium arch, reducing 
the playing area, and thus limiting the actor's freedom of 
movement. Jouvet observed that since a restricted stage area 
had become the tradition, there had been scant opportunity 
for the actors to give their plays depth and perspective. The 
actor could not fully express all that the text might require, 
and the advantages that depth and perspective could give, 
richly magnifying the play's effectiveness, were lost. The 

The Vieux-Colombier 57 

result was a hampering of dramatic illusion. 71 In Copeau's 
theatre, on the contrary, the action whirled all about the 
spectators, establishing a close contact with them and in- 
creasing communication. 

For the production of The Winter's Tale, sets were made 
which would permit the action to flare up on one part of the 
stage, subside, and flare up at another, thus giving the au- 
dience a sense of rapid and busy sequence. Part of the stage 
would be illuminated wherever a scene was being enacted; 
drapes, behind which the company would be shifting sets for 
the following scene, covered the rest. The footlights had been 
done away with; the border of the stage was painted gray; 
the floor was of cement. All this produced an austere impres- 
sion, similar to that of early Greek temples. 72 There were only 
two exits on the stage a walk-out through the garden and 
another in the rear. The stage itself was subdivided in the 
rear, to the right a door, to the left a staircase. The crowds, 
when called for, stood on the stairs, making for a superb mass 
effect. For instance, in the scene in which the Queen is judged, 
the people gathered about on the stairs, producing the effect 
of a highly solemn assembly. There were few props a bed, 
some chairs made of lightly colored cubes, a throne, also made 
of cubes in a pyramidlike structure, and the staircase. 

The costumes designed by Fauconnet, shortly before he died, 
were sober in line, but beautiful in texture and fresh and lively 
in color. When the lights shone upon them, they assumed an 
exquisite fairylike quality, charging the atmosphere with fan- 
tasy. A delicate and subtle suffusion of light made the scene 
of the Queen's vigil at the castle of Leontes extraordinarily 
effective. In this scene, the Queen's ladies-in-waiting were 
chatting on the side of the stage under dim lantern lights; 
on the other side, the Queen was caressing her son. Because 
of the inspired lighting arrangement, the groups were har- 
moniously composed and not set apart; they were emotion- 
ally related and in fluid contact. The scene recalls the almost 

58 Forming an Artist 

formal complementary poses in medieval sculptures. Lighting, 
as now used, was not only a force that pictorially enhanced 
the action and suffused the atmosphere to make just the appro- 
priate dream-background, but it also added a subtle spiritual 
aura to the action. The production was a masterpiece of stage- 
craft and direction. 

Louis Jouvet played only a small role in The Winter's Tale, 
that of Autolycus, the eccentric clown, the parasite, a useless 
and gratuitous fellow. The role was not sufficiently telling to 
give him scope. But he did stand out in the production as a 
painter in lights ; his efforts in this field appeared more striking 
than ever. He could make a situation more emphatic or 
intangible or highly suggestive by the use of atmosphere. Like 
Appia, he felt that the character's emotions could be heigh- 
tened, contrasted, or set into bolder relief by the manipulation 
of lights. 

In spite of all the love and devotion Copeau and his troupe 
gave this play, the Parisians remained indifferent. They were 
not impressed by the bareness of the grey walls, by the cement 
floor. Henri Gheon did not care for the production as a whole, 
but he did highly commend the mise en scene and the acting. 

Before these ardent and docile young people, surrounded by a few older 
members whose experience is known to us all, one has the impression of 
disciplined spontaneity, of joyous rivalry, of a marrelously diverse source 
of energy which asks only to come to the fore, in brief, of an almost 
boundless reservoir for the author who might want to work with them. 73 

As the season progressed, however, Copeau produced a num- 
ber of successful plays such as Vildrae's Le Paquebot Tenacity, 
Le Carrosse du Saint Sacrement, and Georges DuhameFs 
L'Oeuvre des Athletes. Henri Bordeaux thought the last named 
play one of the most comic ones he had ever seen. 74 But is was 
presented only twenty-two times; the general public remained 
aloof in spite of many enthusiastic reviews by the critics. 

With L'Oeuvre des Athletes, Duhamel wanted to give an 
impression of universality, implying that this was the sort of 

The Vieux-Colombier 59 

story that could take place anywhere at any time. The drama 
revolved around a principal whom Duhamel portrayed as an 
imbecile. Filiatre-Demeslin- Jouvet pretends to have inventive 
gifts and he formulates astounding and fantastic systems; he 
tries to impose these on others by the hocus-pocus of big words 
and a sonorous tone of voice. Duhamel introduces this pom- 
pous man into a normal household, and, as the action proceeds, 
shows how contagious his silliness is and to what extent it 
can influence the naive. Jouvet played this role to perfection. 
He struck out the character in broad lines, and yet never 
failed in telling details; his eyes were vague, his gestures in- 
decisive, his mouth clammy. As he strutted around the stage, 
dressed in an ordinary business suit, he constantly repeated 
his formulations and tried to impress others with their im- 
portance and complexity. 

The stage, as usual, was rid of all extraneous details. There 
were a few chairs, a sideboard, and a pot. The costumes 
resembled the clothes seen anywhere in a modem city. But 
they were stylized to produce a sharp contrast between the 
prosaic and everyday appearance of the principals, and the 
impressionable and fantastic mentality they revealed. 

The next production in which Jouvet appeared is important 
to him only because it was the first of a series of plays by 
Jules Romains, in which he was to achieve some of his greatest 
successes. In the insignificant role of Anselm in Cromedeyre- 
le-Vieil, he attracted little notice except for the flattering re- 
flection that he acted as if he were an etcher. This play was 
not only an exciting and memorable experience for Romains 
but also for his friends such as Georges Dumamel, Charles 
Vildrac, and Georges Chenneviere, who had been part of the 
Abb aye de Creteil venture. 

Copeau was enthusiastic about the play and wanted the 
mass groupings to suggest the truly dramatic qualities inherent 
in them. As the curtains parted on opening night, May 27, 
1920, Copeau declared in his program notes: 

60 Forming an Artist 

The cultured spectator should not expect to he hasely humored hy the 
vulgar violence of naturalistic rusticity or hy the high jinks of a pictur- 
esque squawker. What we wish you to hear is a poem, that is, the sustained 
song of the human soul when it soars toward divinity, nature, and love. 75 

To conclude the season of 1920, on July 1, Copean produced 
three one-act plays: a revival of La Coupe Enchantee, Viele- 
Griffin's Phocas le Jardirder, and Emile Mazaud's La Folle 
Jour nee. In the last of these plays, Jouvet played the principal 
role, that of Truchard, an old man who has been invited to 
spend the day in the country with a retired friend, M. Mouton 
(Andre Bacque) whom he has not seen for thirty years. Both 
have changed so considerably during their separation that 
neither can understand or sympathize with the other. As the 
day draws to a close, a deep sense of melancholy overwhelms 
M. Mouton; he feels that youth has irrevocably passed for 
both of them. 

The action takes place in the sort of suburb that attracts 
old folks of the lower bourgeoisie because of the modest cost 
of living. The sets, designed by Jouvet, are, as usual, simple 
and evocative. In M. Mouton's garden, the props are few 
some lilacs, some pansies, lettuce plants scattered here and 
there, several garden chairs, geraniums in a pot. A fisherman's 
hat hangs from a peg. There is a birdcage without birds, and 
that is all. Tbe scenery does not change, but the atmosphere 
surrounding it does, moving wilh slow inevitability, from a 
mood of mild happiness to one of somber despair. A harsh 
light illumines the set at the beginning of the play, gradually 
softening and diminishing to indicate the day's coming to an 
end, at the same time implying the end of the days of the two 
old men. From time to time, a train whistle blows in the 
distance, emphasizing the swiftness of time roaring past. This 
reinforces the gloom-ridden atmosphere of the end. 

Jouvet portrayed Truchard as a sad and ruined man. Timid 
and uncertain of himself, slowly fingering his old cap with 
trembling hands, he approaches M. Mouton's home. His face 

The Vieux-Colombier 61 

is almost obliterated by a large white mustache, yellowed by 
the constant use of tobacco. As he enters the house of his 
boyhood friend, he is emotionally overcome. The compara- 
tively successful Mouton takes the starch out of him, with the 
result that he is subservient. When he observes that Mouton 
is quite self-confident, besides having grown fat with good 
living, he himself is so painfully aware of his failure and his 
uselessness that he can hardly bring himself to speak. The 
only words he can utter are "It's amazing how you've gained 
weight," speaking them with envious looks. His timid gestures, 
Ms long periods of silence, and his fumbling reveal a sad, 
shop-worn, sensitive, and tender sentimentalist. 

With this production, the Vieux-Colombier's 1919-1920 
season came to a close. Despite its vicissitudes, Copeau's theatre 
was a success. It was not a snobbish theatre, as many supposed, 
though it did attract snobs. It actually was part of the work- 
aday world, trying to bring fine acting and intelligent stage- 
craft to the theatre; it also tried to promote dramas of ex- 
ceptional caliber, without regard to commercial success. Above 
all, Copeau wanted to deal honestly with his playwrights, his 
actors, and his audience, and in this he succeeded. It even 
became stylish to spend the evening at the Vieux-Colombier, 
and many Americans in Paris made it a practice to see at 
least one production. 76 Yet, in spite of this theatre's well- 
deserved popularity, its finances were at a very low ebb. There 
was a reason for this. Upon Copeau's return from New York, 
he decided to remodel the forestage by projecting it out into 
the audience, and thereby eliminated some of the orchestra 
seats. Since the theatre was small to begin with (it had seated 
500 people) it could now seat only 300. Although the theatre 
was most frequently filled, the receipts could not cover ex- 
penses. Either the theatre would have to be enlarged or it 
would lose money on every performance, no matter how suc- 
cessful. On July 17, 1920, Copeau declared a deficit of 116,000 
francs. 77 

62 Forming an Artist 

Reactions to this state of affairs soon set in. Copeau had 
always depended on gifts and donations in the past, and he 
had almost always succeeded in obtaining them. Jouvet, how- 
ever, and many other members of the troupe, were dissatisfied 
with this insecurity which seemed to be chronic with the Vieux- 
Colombier, and they wanted to stabilize the situation. But 
Copeau fought off all arguments for commercializing his 
theatre; he was afraid that his freedom might be curtailed and 
jeopardized in some manner. He had learned a bitter lesson 
in New York. 

His main preoccupation at this juncture was the reopening 
of his school of acting which he had had closed before his 
New York tour. In the fall of 1920, Copeau finally reopened 
the school on the same basis as in the past. However, since he 
lacked space in his theatre to house so large an undertaking, 
he set it up at 9 Rue du Cherche-Midi The school was in- 
tended to train students from the ages of fourteen to twenty 
in a broad group of subjects related directly or indirectly to 
the stage, such as diction, stage setting, make-up, physical 
education, the history of drama, analysis of plays, poetic and 
realistic techniques, and so forth. Frequently, writers and 
others famous in the arts were invited to lecture there. 78 Jules 
Romains became the director of the school and Mile Marie- 
Helene Copeau (now Marie-Helene Daste) its secretary. The 
school had probably the most brilliant and best-equipped 
teaching staff in France in that period. 79 

Louis Jouvet was to teach the following course: 

Theory of theatrical architecture. Greek theatre. Study of Greek theatre 
from the standpoint of architecture and material. The rapport between 
the audience and the orchestra, the orchestra and the stage, the stase and 
the audience. Questions of acoustics, of visibility, of lighting, of the 
feasible. 80 

The varied scope of this course indicated how far Jouvet's 
studies had carried him. But this was not all Jouvet did. He 
was also technical advisor to those conducting a course in the 
workshop. This course was very comprehensive : 

The Vieux'Colombier 63 

Studio work. Practical study of stage material. Studio head: Miss Marie- 
Helene Copeau. Technical counselors . . . Geometric drawing. Modeling. 
Painting. Working in wood, leather, cardboard. Cutting and sewing. This 
studio work permits the greatest latitude for the initiative and spontaneous 
taste of the pupil. The pupils will take turns as the opportunity offers, 
with readings, games, and walks together (Visits to museums, monuments, 
gardens, etc.). 81 

The Vieux-Colombler ateliers were very simple with an overall 
artisan-like atmosphere. The smooth functioning of the orga- 
nization rested sqnarely on the shoulders of the heads of the 
workshops, which were strikingly similar to those of medieval 
guilds. The students were respected, never driven, rarely 
given to excess, and a spirit of cooperation unified them. 
J onvet was the animating force in the group, supervising the 
work to be done, and manifesting unqualified confidence In 
those under his supervision. Each student pursued his work 
with untramelled spirit under the sympathetic but vigilant 
wing of the Patron. 811 

As for Jouvet's loge-bureau, the following description in- 
dicates its character: much like an artist's studio, it was divided 
In two horizontally; the top section was an artist's studio, 
where Lucien Aguettand spent his time designing sets; the 
base, used for an office and dressingroom, was reserved for 
Jouvet. During the intermissions or after a performance, 
Jouvet would frequently return to his dressingroom, ascend the 
stairs on the left to the studio, and watch Aguettand at work. 
Examining the drawing and blueprints very carefully, he would 
often suggest improvements or toss out the finished or half- 
finished designs, and make preliminary sketches of new ones 
as his conceptions altered or broadened. 83 

Although Jouvet did not have precise theories on teaching 
as yet, he did want to instill in his pupils a respect for 
manual labor, intellectual curiosity, and moral and intellectual 
honesty. It was also his dictum that an artist could not develop 
into a fully rounded comedian with the ability to present the 
salient facets of a character, unless he were intimate with 

64 Forming an Artist 

every function of the theatre, such as lighting, scenic design, 
and the rest. In this he agreed with Gordon Craig. The 
neophyte must, of course, learn how to use his hody, Ms hands, 
feet, and face, to he able to project the integrated character 
across to the audience. His muscles must become flexible with 
constant use, in such tasks as constructing scenery or in some 
work involving bodily activity connected with the theatre, 
which demands physical as well as mental effort; and above 
all, he must have a genuine delight in and love for all he does 
in the theatre. Without pleasure as a driving force, everything 
is done in a halfhearted way, and thus falls short of full 

Jouvet was now beginning to understand the importance of 
a close rapport between the lieu dramatique, where the action 
takes place, and the lieu theatral, from which point one follows 
the action. His two seasons in New York had brought this 
home to him. The rapport had often been lacking to the even- 
tual detriment of the production. He stressed this rapport in 
the course which he taught at the Vieux-Colombier. Jouvet 
also tried to discover new vistas of the theatre. The classes 
almost always ended with an exchange of ideas between student 
and teacher, arousing the curiosity of the students to an even 
higher pitch. 84 

The curriculum lasted approximately three years. The 
students who successfully passed the examination at the end 
had to perform with the Vieux-Colombier group for another 
three years. They were given a modest salary and forbidden 
to act with any other troupe. After that they could go on their 
own and branch out as they pleased, or, if very gifted, they 
might be invited to stay on with the Vieux-Colombier. 85 

In La Mart de Sparte, a new three-act play by Jean Schlum- 
berger, Jouvet again played an insignificant role, that of 
Antigone. Jouvet designed all the stage sets of the play, 
reverting to the form of the decor simultane, which had been 
popular in the beginning of the seventeenth century. There 

The Vieux-Colombier 65 

were twenty tableaux, many taking place within the same 
stage setting, and several were presented in front of the curtain. 
The stage was bare. On the right of it there was a staircase 
ascending to a large platform. This play was produced only 
seven times. 

After this production, for a period of a little less than a 
year, Jouvet was to appear only in revivals such as Le Medecin 
Malgre Lui, La Coupe Enchantee, La Jalousie du Barbouille, 
Le Carrosse du Saint Sacrement, and others. Copeau did not 
produce a new play until March 7, 1922 L 9 Amour, Lime cf Or, 
a three-act comedy by Count Alexis Tolstoi, translated by 
Dumesnil de Gramont. The play is witty, tender, ironic, and 
at times fantastic. The action takes place in the Russia of the 
eighteenth century, in the castle of a great lord. The great 
lord's wife, a princess, is bored to distraction because she is 
married to an old man. Her godmother, Catherine of Russia, 
sends her a book entitled L* Amour > Livre cf Or. The Princess 
is thrilled by it; at once she wants to organize a Russian 
counterpart of the French Trianon. The Prince is not happy 
about his wife's vagaries and his chagrin turns to fury when 
he realizes that she has fallen in love with a handsome aide 
de camp, sent by the Queen to announce her forthcoming visit. 

When the audience sees Prince Serpoukhevsky (Jouvet) 
appearing on stage without a wig, his head wrapped in a 
scarf, dressed in a lounging robe, under which is a caftan with 
a belt, with his pants tucked in his boots, it guffaws. Since 
the Prince is a fool, and never quite normal, the audience 
reacts to him as it would to an absurdity, with derisive laughter. 

The Prince walks into his cabinet, furnished in the best 
of taste, followed by a clown called Cribble; he approaches 
a small table. He sees the book lying on it and says: "There 
it is, that cursed book. It's barely a week since the Empress 
sent it to us. It's not a big book, but it is devilishly dangerous." 
The Prince, opening the book with caution, tells Cribble that 
this is definitely not a book on religion. Whereupon he spits 

66 Forming an Artist 

on the floor in the Arab-taboo manner, that Is, in order to 
deflect the evil eye, Jettatura. The Prince now wrestles with 
his emotions. He wants to beat his wife and yet, at the same 
time, succumbs to a feeling of tenderness for her. He starts to 
cry. "When his wife enters, he prostrates himself before her, 
and implores forgiveness for his brutal designs against her. 
The Princess pardons him. However, when she observes that 
he does not wear a wig, that his hat is moth eaten, and that lie 
does not know how to bow or to kiss a lady's hand, she comes 
to the conclusion that his education has been neglected. He 
must read If Amour, Livre cf Or, principally for the improve- 
ment of his manners and possibly for the uplifting of his esprit. 

Copeau and Jouvet, in order to make the Prince seem even 
more ridiculous, furnish him with a small sword, which he 
does not know how to use. He respects only three things the 
Greek Orthodox Church, the Imperial Throne, and the stick 
(the stick representing a latent strain of primitive brutality in 
him which frecpiently overrides his sentimentality). Jouvet 
was brilliantly effective as the senile Prince. He had studied 
the role with his characteristic meticnlousness and he por- 
trayed it with a fine understanding of the man's degradation, 
confusion, and foolishness. He knew just how to highlight the 
brutality, the tenderness, and awkward mawkishness inherent 
in the character. 86 

The reaction of the critics was highly laudatory, but the 
play was performed only sixteen times. The critics not only 
praised the imaginative decor and the mise en scene but seemed 
to enjoy Jouvet't profound grasp of the character, his natural- 
ness of execution and meaningful gestures, which although 
carefully planned, seemed completely spontaneous. 87 

The last play in which Jouvet acted at the Vieux-Colombier 
was a drama about one man, Saul, by Andre Gide. He played 
the relatively unimportant role of the high priest. But the 
scenery which he created captured the spirit of the Holy Land 
and the King's august and forbidding domicile. The King's 

The Vieux-Colombier 61 

palace, in which most of the action took place, was a vast room 
with gray walls and purple drapes. Massive columns to the 
right and to the left of the stage supported the ceiling. In the 
center of the stage stood an enormous throne, rising vertically 
like an arrow. Between the columns, in the distance, terraces, 
gardens, and tree tops were visible. Four lamps threw troubled 
shadows around the room. In the scene in which Saul consults 
the Witch of En dor, dancing lights curled around the gray 
drapes and partiaEy revealed ectoplasmic shreds of floating 
material. Another scene (the terrace of the King) was set in 
a rotunda. 88 Saul was produced nine times at the Vieux-Colom- 
bier and it was said of Jouvet: 

The role of the high priest is interpreted by Louis Jouvet whose manifold 
talents adapt themselves so prodigiously and in so varied a manner to each 
of his creations. 89 

About this time, a discordant note was evident at the 
Vieux-Colombier. Jacques Copeau and Louis Jouvet, intimates 
for many years, now began to drift apart. They were no longer 
seen together at Lipp's, a small tavern near Saint-Germain des 
Pres, where they had often gathered to talk shop. 

Many reasons have been preferred as to why Jouvet left the 
Vieux-Colombier. Some said he left, like Dullin before him, 
as a result of a misunderstanding. Others maintained that he 
wanted to enter a larger theatrical field, where financial and 
other opportunities would be more abundant. Still others said 
that he had quarrelled with Copeau because the latter would 
not yield to his request that he enlarge the Vieux-Colombier, 
which, as a nonprofit organization, seated only 363 people. 
Louis Jouvet, many people maintained, wanted to turn it into 
a more remunerative proposition. All these speculations as to 
the reason for Jouvet's departure from an institution with 
which he had so long been fruitfully connected may have some 
elements of truth in them. The true reason is much simpler. 
It was well known that a member of Copeau's troupe had long 
been jealous of Jouvet's achievements and had tried to hobble 

68 Forming an Artist 

him. He had also tried to belittle Jouvet to Copeau. In these 
tactics he must have been more or less successful since he had 
acquired a growing influence over Copeau. Copeau, under 
such influence, developed an increasing mistrust of Jouvet. 
And when Jouvet realized how matters stood, he could do no 
less than withdraw. These unexpected tensions had started 
long before 1922 ; they began to appear in New York soon after 
the war. From then on they became steadily more acute. 

Jacques Hebertot, director of the Theatre des Champs- 
Elysees, invited Jouvet to become technical director of his 
theatre. In October, 1922, after Copeau had promised Jouvet 
the opportunity to produce the La Farce de Maitre Pathelin 
and then changed his mind, Jouvet accepted Hebertot's offer. 
It was now that Jouvet was about to enter into his great period. 


The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

Becoming a Master 

Key play, phoenix-play 9 St. Bernard-play, providence, protector 
and guardian play. 1 

When Louis Jouvet accepted Jacques Hebertot's invitation to 
become technical director of the Theatre des Champs-Ely sees 9 
he realized that from then on he must depend almost entirely 
on his own resources. He was prepared, however, to carry on 
alone, for he felt he had acquired the necessary knowledge and 

The Theatre des Champs-Elysees, at this period, consisted of 
two theatres : the Comedie des Champs-Elysees and the Grand 
Theatre. Both had been built by the Ferret brothers before 
the First World War. There was an art gallery on the sixth 
floor of the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, where Picasso, Brae- 
que, and other well-known painters used to meet and discuss 
their ideas. Since the gallery was chronically unprofitable, 
Jacques Hebertot decided to use the space for the establishment 
of another small theatre, later to be known as the Studio des 
Champs-Elysees. 2 

Jouvet was put in charge of the necessary remodeling of the 

72 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

new theatre. Simplicity, utility, proportion were always his 
watchwords in any such undertaking. At the same time, he was 

not going to forget the artists who had a gallery in the building. 
He planned to reestablish the gallery, using the corridors and 
wall space above the stairs to exhibit paintings and sculptures. 
During intermissions, the audiences would have an opportunity 
to see the exhibits, which would be changed periodically and 
mentioned in the program. 

Although people have denied that Jouvet had any hand in 
designing the new Studio des Champs-Elysees or in planning 
the art gallery, a letter written by Jacques Hebertot on Sep- 
tember 2, 1922, does establish the point: 

It would be very good of you if you would send me, if possible, on 
Monday before 3 o'clock, the drawings which Mr. Jouvet might have left. 

In the last drawing we made of the staircase, we did not take the existing 
main beam into consideration and we will be forced to return to the 
original ideas for the staircase. 

If Mr. Jonvet's first sketches still exist, would you be so kind as to 
have them sent to me. 3 

Since circumstances (mainly the distance of the Theatre des 
Champs-Elysees, situated on the Avenue Montaigne, from the 
popular theatre districts) had sunk Jacques Hebertot in finan- 
cial difficulties, he decided to ask the Russian Pitoeff troupe 
to alternate with Jouvet in the use of the stage of the Comedie 
des Champs-Elysees. His offer was accepted. Georges and 
Ludmilla Potoeff, brilliant artists and producers of plays by 
Tolstoy, Andreyev, Vildrac, Duhamel, and Pirandello, were 
as yet unknown in Paris except to the elite and avant-garde. 
The new venture would be a difficult one for both Jouvet and 
the Pitoeffs. 

From this situation, however, Jouvet learned something im- 
portant namely, that the paramount need for any theatre 
is to be successful. That same notion must have been upper- 
most in Moliere's mind when he stated in La Critique de FEcole 
des Femmes that "The great art is to please." Heretofore Jou- 
vet's primary interest had been in producing plays of distinc- 

Becoming a Master 73 

tion. Now he knew that in addition he must also interest a 
sufficient audience to make a success of the productions, for 
without cash in the till, the theatre dies. 4 

J oiivet also realized that to be successful in the theatre, he 
had to present a more balanced choice of plays, depicting 
human conflicts in a way comprehensible to many. He had 
to achieve harmony in his producing methods, that is, the 
author of the play, the actor, and the audience must be linked 
in a bond of mutual effort, understanding, and participation. 
This implies a mystical outlook, which is at the core of Jouvet's 
philosophy of the theatre. 

Jouvet claimed moreover that when there was unity among 
actor, author, and audience, a mystical force penetrated the 
actor and endowed him with hypnotic powers in his perfor- 
mance, bringing his acting to a fine edge. He was convinced 
that when this potent force took hold, the play moved on as 
if by itself, almost miraculously unfolding. There was no sense 
of strain among the actors, and a refreshing sense of release 
and exaltation permeated the audience. The feeling of the 
actors that the audience was close to them and was truly living 
in the same world gave their art a sustained vitality. In short, 
both audience and actor had been sensitized by the medium, 
the play, from which a world of fancy had arisen of unusual 
breadth, drive, and vitality. Jouvet said that when the play 
was enjoyed, a dramatic harmony, or communion between 
actor and audience, had been accomplished. A dramatic work, 
an evening's entertainment was actually, or should be, a con- 
versation among the author, the actor, and the audience. 

It was not until March 13, 1923, one year after leaving the 
Vieux-Colombier, that Louis Jouvet was once again to ex- 
perience the excitement, strain, and frustration of an opening 
night. The play was M. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la Debauche, 
a five-act comedy by Jules Romains for which Jouvet designed 
all the sets and played the leading part. 

But rehearsals had not been going well from the beginning 

74 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

and as opening night approached, Jonvet despaired of success. 
Although Hebertot was director in name, Jonvet had actually 
done the work and undertaken all responsibility for the pro- 
duction. 5 He was acting with an unfamiliar troupe; and the 
theatre itself differed markedly from the Vieux-Colombier, in 
which he had felt at home. Although the Vieux-Colombier 
had produced one of Romains 9 plays, Cromedeyre-le-Vieil in 
1920, in which Jouvet had acted, Romains himself was hardly 
known to the general public as a playwright. Jouvet had to 
give his audiences a distinguished and vivid performance of 
a worthwhile script. The actor judged Romains' play to be 
clever enough, but not compelling. It tells the story of a nai've 
professor who wins and then loses the affections of a clever 
actress, Mile Rolande, whom he had met while in Monte Carlo. 
Jouvet realized that the production must be outstanding to 

Despairing or not, Jouvet had pushed ahead. While de- 
signing the decor for Af. Le Trouhadec, he had followed a 
precise procedure which had already become part of him. 
Nothing was left to chance or to the imagination of the mason 
or carpenter; every detail was considered and dovetailed. His 
procedure was first to sketch in the basic plans, several times 
if necessary. Then he made a detailed drawing; last, a blue- 
print of the entire set. He was a meticulous and concentrated 
worker, a perfectionist; if he were pressed for time in the 
designing of a set, he might stay in his office a good part of 
the night, or take the work home to be finished there. 

The stage setting for M. Le Trouhadec was charming. As 
the gray drapes parted, the audience looked out on to an 
ordered, restrained decor. In the center, there were two tall 
palm trees, placed rather far apart. In the rear, a reproduc- 
tion of the Casino of Monte Carlo. In front of the palm trees, 
two garden chairs set at a distance apart from each other; 
there was a balustrade in the rear, and some flower beds. 

When Le Trouhadec meets Mile Rolande there takes place 

Becoming a Master 75 

a symbolic rearrangement or distortion of parts of the set 
to convey psychological implications. For instance, the tops 
of the palm trees were inclined toward each other until they 
touched in this scene, and the chairs were placed next to one 
other. After M. Le Tronhadec had won 14,000 francs and Mile 
Rolande's affection, one of the chairs was placed in front of 
the palm trees, the other behind it. The position of the flower 
beds was again altered. The palm trees were set close to each 
other and their branches were turned away from each other. 
Stretching completely across the background was a band of 
blue, representing the Mediterranean. 

Toward the end of the play, when M. Le Trouhadec had lost 
everything at gambling, together with the actress's affections, 
the palm trees were once again moved far apart and the tree 
trunks turned outward. Only one chair remained and the 
position of the flower beds was altered again. A single piece 
of scenery had been added, a lamp post, signifying, most pro- 
bably, loneliness and old age. In the final scene, at "Felix's" 
front door, there were two lamp posts which stood far apart, 
in front of the palm trees which now again inclined toward 
each other. Only one chair remained and one bed of flowers. 
This set was rather heavily weighted with symbolism. The 
curtains then closed only to part once again to permit the 
audience to view a type of tableau vivant a banquet given 
to Le Trouhadec at which a toast to his health was drunk by 
all the guests. 

Jouvet had very carefully studied his part, that of Le Trou- 
hadec, and his approach was rather complex. At one moment, 
he played the part in the spirit of caricature, at another, al- 
most sentimentally, with satiric overtones; but all elements 
flowed freely into a changing but always recognizable pattern. 
Le Trouhadec was sly and cunning at times, at others honest 
and upright a mixture of sometimes contradictory qualities, 
and yet in no sense disjointed. To impersonate M. Le Trou- 
hadec, Jouvet wore a moplike wig and his mask was deeply 

76 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

wrinkled. His voice was pitched rather high and, when he 
became excited, it squeaked. He was quite ludicrous when he 
stood still on the stage, his eyes half shut, tall and skinny, as 
if standing on stilts. 

When Pierre Veber saw this startling and highly comical 
silhouette thrown against Jouvet's astonishing mise en scene, 
he wrote: "Jouvet staged this high comedy with rare intelli- 
gence; his simplified sets are a real find. He drew the most 
comical schema of the Cote d' Azur." 6 

But there were other critics, such as Paul Leautaud, writing 
under the pseudonym of Maurice Boissard, who felt that 
neither the play nor Jouvet's acting warranted praise. Ac- 
cusing Komains of having invented a fixed and stereotyped 
pattern for comedy, he concluded that the present play fol- 
lowed that pattern, was devoid of all naturalness, comedy and 
fantasy, and was indeed cold, monotonous and overly com- 
plicated. 7 He was one of several who felt that Remains"* work 
was not sincere and that Jouvet was disappointing in the role 
of Le Trouhadec. 

Heaven knows if, until now, I always found talent in Mr. Jouvet, a very 
great talent. That was because he always remained natnral in comic roles, 
without ever, in any way, overacting. He certainly lacked these marvelous 
qualities in his interpretation of M. Le Trouhadec. The marionette to 
which he introduced us, with its tics, its faulty pronunciation, and its 
exaggerated senility, is at best suitable for vaudeville. 8 

Lugne-Poe, the founder of the Theatre de FOeuvre, commented 
on the play's spontaneity; yet in spite of its many flaws, he 
said that "irony and good grace offer real relaxation. 9 ' 9 

On the whole, however, the play was received favorably, 
and Jouvet was satisfied with the notices in general. This 
was the encouragement he needed to continue. He knew now 
that slowly, very slowly indeed, he was winning an appreciative 
audience. Brimming with ideas for new works, new interpre- 
tations, and new stage sets, he was planning for the future. 
At the same time, he read broadly and thoroughly digested 
what he read. 

Becoming a Master 77 

Many plays were presented to him daily for his perusal, 
some by unknowns and others By authors already popular. 
Since Jouvet was technical director of the Theatre des Champs- 
Elysees, it was his job to provide a repertory for all of its 
theatres: the Comedie des Champs-Elysees, the Theatre des 
Champs-Elysees, and the Studio des Champs-Elysees, which 
as yet had not been completed. So he had an exhausting reading 
schedule which he conscientiously carried out. In a letter 
written on August 8, 1923, to Lucien Aguettand, he suggested 
that the following plays should be produced either by him 
or the Pitoeff troupe: 


VEcole des Femmes (Moliere) ; Une piece sans litre, de (Roger-Marx) ; 

La Mandragore (Machiavel) . 

Le Mortage de M. Le Trouhadec (Remains) ; Le Retour de Christine 

(Hofmannsthal) ; Une comedie (Gheon) . 

La Tragedie de St. Agnes ( D'Ave) ; Jedermann (Hofmannsthal) ; Le 

Saint Malgre Lui (Gheon). 

Reprise [revivals] 

M. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la Debauche (Remains). 


Une piece (M. Achard) ; Une piece (C. Vildrac) ; Une comedie (Aris- 

tophane) ; Une comedie (Holberg) . 

VEcole des Femmes (Studio) ; Une piece de Roger-Marx (Studio) ; 

on de Gheon (Comedie) ; Le Retour de Christine (Comedie) ; ou La 

Mandragore (Studio); Le Mariage de M. Le Trouhadec (Comedie). 

The Theatre des Champs-Elysees was still undergoing phy- 
sical alterations including the remodeling of the Studio. Jouvet 
did his share of manual labor since he liked to apply himself, 
and he could thereby save money, which was never plentiful. 
On August 22, 1923, he wrote Aguettand, remarking "At present 
they are building a cantilever two stories high in the court- 
yard, which should serve to increase the theatre's office 
space." 10 

Jouvet, who had drawn up the plans for the Studio des 
Champs-Elysees, now watched them take shape. Much of the 

78 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

scenery was constructed inside the theatre Itself to permit 
his supervision and occasional participation In the work. "We 
are also going to build a carpentry shop and a painting studio 
on the terrace, where we planned It, with access to the hoists 
of the Theatre and the Comedie." 11 

The following letter to Aguettand indicates to what extent 
Jouvet was interested in the slightest detail of reconstruction, 
as well as the pleasure he took in Its appearance. 

The Studio is almost completed now, thank heaven, though Cordonnet 
has not finished the lanterns and we have not made any important light- 
ing tests. The seats have not yet Jbeen installed because the upholsterers 
have not yet arrived, but the appearance of the auditorium is very pleasant 
and the leaf gilding gives a very warm tone to this little structure. 

The two boxes In the rear, in particular, and the five small boxes in the 
balcony give a charming effect. 12 

This concentrated work continued all winter, and the fol- 
lowing summer Jouvet took a vacation in the South of France. 
Wherever he went, he was constantly preoccupied with the 
theatre, sketching new stage sets, considering new interpreta- 
tions, and dreaming of new costumes. He also met friends, 
authors, and artists and talked over his plans with them. 

I took a wonderful trip to the South of France. I often thought of you 
at Oranges, Aries, Avignon, Pont du Card, and the environs which you 
know I like so much. I am sorry you are not familiar with them. 

The fortnight which I spent at the seashore after this was passed solely 
in bathing or in enjoying the fresh air of the environs. There I met Ro* 
mains, Vildrac, Durtain, who are habitues of the coast. The countryside 
is, I think, very Algerian and one finds there only mimosa, palm and 
eucalyptus trees, and succulent plants. 13 

Jouvet was always a keen observer of the physical as well as 
the human scene. In New York City he had paid close atten- 
tion to the architecture of the buildings and the layout of 
entire neighborhoods. In the South of France, he observed 
nature's color harmonies and noted those particular elements 
which stood out in any arresting way. He could sometimes 
pick out a detail of a building and store it in his memory for 
the day when it might serve his purpose in a background. His 

Becoming a Master 79 

talent for acute observation was a decided factor in giving 
authenticity and detail to his stage sets. Simplicity and clarity, 
his two salient characteristics on the creative side, were 
achieved only after a thorough study of all phases of the 
situation, and he gradually eliminated the nonessential until 
he got the effect he wanted. 

The same characteristics were manifest in his acting when 
he appeared as the retired and idiotic general Foulon-Dubelair 
on October 24, 1923, in a three-act comedy by Georges Du- 
hamel, La Journee des Aveux. For this production, which took 
place at the Studio des Champs-Elysees, Georges Pitoeff did 
the directing, designed the sets, and took the leading part. 
But Jouvet, even in his insignificant role, was as thorough- 
going as ever in his approach; he studied every word and 
phrase, each gesture and effect until it was his own, and he 
was satisfied with the characterization. Max and Alex Fischer 
commented on Jouvet's "rich sense of comedy," and others 
remarked on his profundity and the precision of his portrayal: 
"In a class by itself is the silhouette of the old general, worthy 
of a Huard sketch, which M. Louis Jouvet brought to life, 
beyond compare." 14 

La Journee des Aveux, however, had little success in spite 
of some favorable notices. It was thought that the pace was 
too slow. But despite this disappointment, Jouvet plunged 
ahead, preparing his next production. Almost two months 
later, on December 14, 1923, he was to achieve one of the 
most outstanding successes of his career in Knock; ou, Le 
Triomphe de la Medecine, a three-act play by Remains. He 
not only directed it and designed the sets, but played the 
principal role, that of Knock, a quack who changes the extra- 
ordinarily healthy mountain community of Saint-Maurice into 
a community of neurotics. 

It is amusing to read Jules Romains' description of his 
meeting with the real "Knock," which gave him the germ 
of the play: 

80 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

I met "Knock" on a road just as a grain of sand had gotten into my eye; 
and, as I clumsily tried to remove it, by raising my eyelid, he passed in a 
luxurious open touring car, stopped, and while examining the white of 
my eye, discovered that I was suffering from a deficiency of the pancreas. 

I had to take to my bed and this malady still persists. It has become 
Intimate, indispensable, and dear to me. I wonder if, without it, life would 
be worth living. 15 

As far as Jonvet knew, this was the only comment made by 
Romains about the real Knock. He never, as others were in- 
clined to do, pressed Romains for further information or 
questioned his veracity about the meeting he described. 16 He 
was forever grateful to Romains for this play, which, because 
of its outstanding financial success, enabled him from that 
time on to produce the works of relatively unknown authors. 
After every failure, Jouvet would put this "money maker" 
back on stage to refill his coffers. For this reason he called 
it his "magic play." 

It was a lucky day for both author and actor when Romains 
asked Jouvet to read his new script; it initiated a relationship 
in the theatre which was to persist and remain highly advan- 
tageous to both. The year was 1923. Charlie Chaplin was in 
Ms heyday; Jean Giraudoux had just completed his novel 
Siegfried et le Limousins the newspapers were commenting 
on Lenin's retirement, Mussolini's march on Rome, and the 
discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb. 17 Romains, during 
lunch with Jouvet, handed him the manuscript which the 
actor read right there. During the reading, Romains watched 
Jouvet very carefully, noting the slightest facial expressions 
which might indicate his reactions to the script. Jouvet, satis- 
fied with it, offered Romains a number of suggestions as to 
how it should be acted and staged. To these remarks, Romains 
answered with a "perhaps" and "why not"; at times, he was 
evasive or even condescending. 18 Finally Romains said: 

Listen, your ideas are very interesting, but I do not want to tell you exactly 
how I would like my play to be performed. I myself do not want to know 
as yet ; at the present moment I could not explain to you what I want. But, 
during the rehearsals, I shall tell you emphatically what I do not want. 

Becoming a Master 81 

Besin casting, show me the actors yon have chosen, and when they re- 
hearse, the rest will follow very simply. 19 

Jouvet accepted Romains' idea, and a few days later the casting 
was completed and the rehearsals began of a play which was 
to become so popular that Jouvet was to produce it almost 
every year until the end of his life. 

To understand Jouvet's method fully one must sit beside 
him at one of his rehearsals and observe the proceedings during 
the few hours when actors contrive to create a world of make- 
believe. Jouvet generally sat in the orchestra to direct, while 
somebody substituted for him in his part. At the opening 
of the play, Jean the chauffeur lay underneath three foot- 
stools and two chairs, which were supposed to represent Dr. 
Parpalaid's broken-down old car. 

Mme Parpalaid was talking: "Et nous avons en de tres belles 
rentrees a la Saint-Michel" 20 ["The receipts were very good 
on Michaelmas Day"]. At this point, Jouvet rose from his seat 
in the orchestra and said: 

Don't hreak off, my dear, between "rentrees" and "Saint-Michel." It 
should he said in one hreath, so as not to underscore the effect, which 
would leave the audience cold. Mrs. Parpalaid must say, "de tres belles 
rentrees a la Saint-Michel." 21 

Jouvet tried to make the other actors on stage feel the situa- 
tion. He asked them to center their attention on what Mme 
Parpalaid was saying. Then, pointing to Dr. Parpalaid, he 
continued; "Look at your wife who has just made a boner." 
At this point, Jouvet began to mime Dr. Parpalaid's role and 
indicated how the actor should react to his wife's faux pas 
with immeasurable disdain. Mme Parpalaid then picked up 
the line, "A la Saint-Michel!" Once again Jouvet interrupted 
and offered a suggestion. "Be much more unsophisticated! 
And there you can use your slight head gesture." Then Mme 
Parpalaid said to her husband: 

Tu entends ce que dit le docteur? Des clients comme en a le boidanger 
oil le boucher? Le Docteur est comme tons les debutants. II se fait des 

82 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

[Do you hear what the doctor said? Customers, just like the baker's and 

the butcher's? The doctor is like all beginners. He has illusions.] 

J onvet was still dissatisfied with this interpretation, so he gave 
his own, stressing the most important vowel, the "i" 11 se 
fait des illusions." Then he continued: "And there you with- 
draw one or two steps." Jouvet felt that while Dr. Parpalaid 
was listening to Dr. Knock's philosophy of medicine his re- 
actions must be studied and ingenious. His facial expressions 
must convince the audience of his utter astonishment at the 
type of medical schooling which Knock had received, for 
Knock had learned medicine by reading medical advertise- 
ments in the newspapers and medical magazines. During this 
rehearsal, as Dr. Parpalaid was about to express his reactions 
to the crude charlatanism of the impostor, Jouvet rose from 
his seat in the orchestra, ran on stage, and placed himself 
behind the actor playing the part of Dr. Parpalaid. He cross- 
ed his arms and stood in solemn meditation, the sort of 
meditation natural to a man who has failed in his chosen 
career and who is now trying for the first time to understand 
a different type of approach to his profession. Then Jouvet 
told the actor playing Parpalaid that it was his job to interest 
the audience in his own character. This could be effected by 
the attitude he assumed while listening to Knock's "philoso- 
phy." Dr. Parpalaid, almost alone, could bring the audience 
into the spirit of the play and carry it with him. Jouvet tried 
to make each actor feel that his part was the most important 
part, no matter how insignificant a role it might be. 

In describing the people of the countryside, Dr. Parpalaid 
suddenly bellowed, "Terriblement avares, d'ailleurs," ["Be- 
sides, so avaricious"], Jouvet again interrupted, requesting 
him to speak the lines in a softer and more acid tone of voice 
and to accompany his speech with a bitter smile, indicating 
his chagrin and disappointment at this experience which had 
entailed financial loss and social disparagement. He had to 
make the audience understand this. 

Becoming a Master S3 

Dr. K: Ilyade r Industrie? 

Dr. P : Fort pen. 

[Dr. K: Is there any industry? 
Dr.P: Very little.] 

J onvet requested Mm to sing out the "pen" and to stress the 

implication that there was slight possibility that any type 
of industrial activity could flourish in such a God-forsaken 

Dr.K: Les commercants sont-ils tres absorbes par leurs affaires? 
Dr* F ; Ma foi, non! 

[Dr.K: Are the merchants very much absorhed in their business? 
Dr. F : Upon my word, no ! ] 

The "Ma foi, non!" said Jouvet, should he snorted out to make 
the audience grasp at once the essentials of Dr. Parpalaid's 
character, which is marked by obtuseness and lack of initiative. 
He is, in fact, an inexperienced, soft-headed provincial, in- 
adequate in the face of any unusual situation. So the rehearsals 
continued. During Act II, scene 3, M. Mousquet, the druggist, 
made his entrance. Knock asked him why he earned only 
25,000 francs a year when he should be able to earn so much 
more. The druggist replied, gesturing grotesquely, his dull, 
doltish manner serving to reveal the mediocrity of his ex- 

Dr. K : You have not, however, much competition? 

M. Mousquet: None. (His right hand rose quickly.) 

Dr.K: Any enemies? 

M. Mousquet: I don't know of any. (Both hands rose quickly.) 

Dr.K: In the past you never had any unfortunate experience, a fit of 

absentmindedness, giving 50 grams of laudanum instead of castor 

M. Mousquet: Not the slightest incident, please believe me. 

With these last words, M. Mousquet held both hands high, as 
if to ward off the sting of Knock's insinuations. 

These exacting rehearsals were held every day from early 
afternoon until the evening. Jouvet spent the mornings study- 
ing the costumes and the stage sets in the making, taking care 
of financial details, examining electrical equipment and light- 
ing, and, finally, outlining the work to be done by the me- 

84 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

chanics and carpenters. He remained in the theatre all day 
long. If he himself were acting at night, he would remain after 
everybody had left to tie up the loose ends. Then, putting 
out his last cigarette, he would close the door of his office 
and go home. 

Jouvet, with the cooperation of Jeanne Dubouchet, created 
all the stage sets which are still familiar to modern audien- 
ces. Looking back on this mise en scene, Jouvet thought that 
the audiences of 1923 must have considered it extremist, ex- 
pressionistic, avant-garde to say the least. Many people, in 
later years, asked him why he had not altered and modernized 
the decor after having given the play so many times. He 
answered that he had tried in vain to change the sets several 
times, but "any innovation would alter the play one cannot 
put Knock out of its environment." 22 

But in spite of the rich and unique humor that the play 
possessed and the long hours devoted to rehearsing, Jouvet was 
worried as usual about how audiences and critics would receive 
it. As opening night drew closer, this anxiety increased until 
it finally came close to panic. 

I was worried, because, of course, I am naturally a worrier. And one must 
be. One would never know how to do anything well without this menacing 
and healthy uncertainty of knowing whether one is doing his best. I was 
worried and I found ground for worrying in all sorts of reasons and 
motives. I was worried by the strangeness of this play because the comic 
situations at times appeared to me to overreach themselves. At the end 
of the second act, for example, in the scene where the two peasants flee 
terrified from the doctor's office, or again in Knock's speech in the third 
act, which ends so curiously with an abrupt and quite clinical evocation. 
I feared the buffoonery of certain scenes, this mockery of real pain, of real 
suffering, so close to us by reason of our fancied weaknesses. The duration 
of the play also disturbed me; it seemed too short to satisfy the audience's 
appetite. I made known my thoughts to Jules Romains. 23 

When Jouvet confided this lack of confidence in the play's 
success to Romains, the author consented to the addition of 
a short play. Jouvet suggested Lord Dunsany's The Silk Hat. 
Romains read the play and decided that instead he himself 
would write a suitable one-act play. 24 

Becoming a Master 85 

This decision was made at a meeting on Sunday, two weeks 
before opening night. At the conclusion of the meeting, Ro- 
mains invited Jouvet to lunch with him the following Friday. 
On Friday Jouvet arrived at Romains* home on Avenue du 
Parc-Montsouris fifteen minutes early, just as Romains was 
putting the finishing touches to the one-act play Amedee et 
les Messieurs en Rang. 25 

When Jouvet had finished reading it, he was confident of 
its success. He felt of course that: "Knocfc is an original play; 
this satire on medicine will interest the public. It will cer- 
tainly be a literary success, but not at all a box-office suc- 
cess." 26 

He was certain, however, that Amedee et les Messieurs en 
Rang would be a tremendous financial success. The next 
day rehearsals began. Jouvet directed, but did not act in 
Amedee. He suggested ideas for sets, which were designed 
by Aguettand and Lauer. His panicky feeling about Knock 
did not abate, and just before the curtains parted on Decem- 
ber 14, 1923, he said to Romains questioningly : 

How are they going to take it? I am afraid of the third act, which is very 
harsh, very gloomy. Will they feel the development in the second act? Act 
one will probably do because it is short, but my stage sets are not what I 
wanted. 27 

Jouvet's fears only abated when the final curtain came down 
amid applause and bravos. Knock-Jouvet was at his best. 
Indeed, the juicy role offered the well-trained actor extra- 
ordinary opportunities. It was in this role, particularly in the 
medical scenes, that Jouvet showed he was now a master of 
his craft. 

But what essential, one may ask, constituted the excellence 
of his acting as Dr. Knock? In the first place, Jouvet put such 
spirit and vitality into it that he at once created a moment 
dramatique among author, audience, and actor, and kept it 
electrically alive during the action, while revealing facet after 
facet of Knock's character. Consider, for instance, Dr. Knock's 

86 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

face when he examined a healthy patient. He looked over his 
spectacles, appeared mysterious and wise, asked just the right 
disturbing questions. Listening to his victim, his every feature 
was sensitized to receive and give impressions which the 
audience would understand. By this method (truly it was 
his power of magnetism) , he took over the mind of his patients 
and, while so doing, savored his own mastery. When he con- 
veyed his concern for the state of his patient's health, he had 
to reveal multiple feelings, each vivid and distinct, but none 
overdone, in a physical language immediately clear to the 
audience. Yet, while running the gamut of sly trickery and 
persecution, he also had to appear human, all too human, and 
Ms cleverness had to arouse in the audience a certain degree 
of amused sympathy, and even participation. 

Jouvet was, of course, almost swept off his feet by this un- 
expected success; nonetheless, he told Gide who had run on 
to the stage to congratulate him, 28 that the best was yet to 
come the one-act play by Jules Romains, Amedee et les 
Messieurs en Rang. The play was performed, and Andre Gide 
again came up onto the stage, but this time he raised his 
hands in a singularly belittling gesture, conveying the adverse 
reaction of the entire audience. The insignificance of this 
one-act play was obvious to all. 29 

Jouvet had made a masterpiece of the character Knock. It 
might be noted that his experience as a pharmacist and the 
years spent in the hospitals had served him well in furnishing 
a mosaic of detail. As a young man, he had observed his pro- 
fessors meticulously washing their hands before making a 
physical examination, and he had instinctively stored away 
the details. For many long hours he had noted the doctor's 
habits at the bedside of patients in the army hospitals. Before 
this, he had sat at the feet of prominent scientists and, watching 
them, had unconsciously absorbed their procedures and foibles. 
Eventually he worked all of this into his characterization of 
Dr. Knock, some of it solemnly imitated and some subtly cari- 

Becoming a Master 87 

eatured. It was this composite that had drawn guffaws from 
the audience. 30 Jouvet said: "One of my professors whom I 
liked rather well, with a goatee and a long mustache, who hid 
eyes of ineffable gentleness behind his glasses, is perhaps not 
foreign to Dr. Knock." 31 

As for the stage sets, which had been equally successful, he 

It grew on me. It was not necessary, In this case, to have what one calls 
"discoveries." It was simply necessary to obey a mechanism of precision, 
to yield to the spirit of the text, as clear, as exacting, as regular as the bars 
of a score are for a musician. The tone, the rhythm, the movement becomes 
clear to those who know how to read. This is always the case when one 
encounters a genuinely great theatrical work. 

When I play Knock, I first try to obey, to the best of my ability, this 
admirable and sovereign text. In addition to this, I have the sense of doing 
a physical exercise, a sort of athletic ordeal. I believe that this is, for the 
actor also, the criterion of a really great role. 32 

Now that the ordeal of the first night was over and the 
critics had acclaimed him, as well as the play itself, Jouvet 
was very happy. But he rejected the judgment of the critics 
on Amedee et les Messieurs en Rang, and kept it on the bill. 
When it still failed to win a favorable response, he changed 
its place on the program, presenting it before Knock. When 
it still failed to please, he restored it to its former place. He 
was stubborn enough to want to prove that his judgment of 
its merits was sound. But the audience disagreed and ap- 
plauded only Knock. z ^ 

However, despite highly laudatory reviews and even after 
300 performances, Jouvet still doubted its lasting value and 
popularity and once again asked Romains for his opinion, 
"Of course, it did not do badly, but will it last?" 34 But only 
time could answer this question. Seven years after the first 
production, in 1930, audiences were still as enthusiastic as ever 
about Knock. And Jouvet's fourfold talents were now gener- 
ally taken for granted: in acting, in creating stage sets, in 
lighting, and in directing. 

88 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

AH of Ms stage sets remain classical, Because of Ms concern for arcMtec- 
tnre, become modern, because of his feeling for the mechanical element. 
We must realize that Knock either as a role or as a play, corresponds 
exactly with the best potentialities of Mr. Jouvet. But Knock is also a 
masterpiece because it contains, besides the comic dialogue, a plastic 

Now, Jouvet inherited from the Vieux-Colombier, and following Mr. 
Copeau's example, this sense of plastic comedy. He transposed it. From 
a stern classicism, he succeeds in creating a rigid phantasy which is al- 
together contemporary. Knock as produced by Mr. Jouvet is incomparable. 
The work does not have one wrinkle, the staging has preserved its youth. 35 

So deep and living an impression had Knock made on the 
public that the role was always identified with Jouvet. Many 
people believed that he was in reality a doctor, and that the 
incidents in the play involved Jouvet. A rather amusing epi- 
sode relative to this occured in Jouvet's dressingroom in the 
Comedie des Champs-Elysees. A reporter went backstage 
during a performance of Knock to interview Jouvet. As he 
walked in, Jouvet had just turned on the loudspeaker which 
he had had installed in his dressingroom. This picked up all 
the noises on stage as well as the audience's spoken reactions. 
Listening to it while he relaxed on a sofa or changed his cos- 
tume helped Jouvet keep immersed in the atmosphere of the 
play and in touch with his audience. After listening for a 
while, he said to the reporter: "It's crawling, isn't it?. . . Rather 
like a basket of crabs." 3G A mechanic suddenly darted in, with 
a bloody hand. Jouvet rose from his seat, examined the hand, 
opened a closet, poured some alcohol into a container, and 
stexilized the cut; he took out some gauze and with great 
professional dexterity applied a bandage. "There you are, 
young fellow. I hope it won't be anything. The only danger is 
that you may lose your nail. We'll see tomorrow." 37 And the 
reporter with great reverence, perhaps with a touch of mock 
reverence, complimented Dr. Knock-Jouvet on his unsuspect- 
ed ability in a different profession. Whereupon Jouvet added, 
"Ah! ah! If I had as many banknotes as I've done tricks like 
this." 38 

Becoming a Master 89 

The year 1924 was to be another memorable one for Jouvet 
In July of this year, he had asked Jacques Hebertot for per- 
mission to leave the Comedie des Champs-Elysees In order to 
take over the directorship of the Vieux-Colombier which was 
open because Copeau had resigned and was leaving Paris. 
Hebertot was amenable to this plan, but in due course Jouvet 
realized that his program was unworkable. He returned to 
the Comedie des Champs-Elysees and took over its direction 
as well as all financial responsibility. 39 Thus Hebertot re- 
mained the director of the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, sub- 
letting the Comedie des Champs-Elysees to Jouvet and Instal- 
ling Gaston Baty as official metteur en scene at the Studio des 

Jouvet, pleased with this new arrangement, said: 
I was granted the possibility of realizing this project thanks to the great 
generosity of Mr. Hebertot, who showed himself most anxious to help 

me. 4 

He also had great plans for the future, Including a revival 
of Knock for the following season. This time, however, he 
would replace Amedee et les Messieurs en Rang with a new 
one-act play by Remains, La Scintillante. Like Copeau, he 
intended to reduce radically the price of tickets for subscribers. 

There had been increasing rumors circulating in Paris con- 
cerning Copeau's failing health, gossip about his coldness to- 
ward Jouvet and about a discreditable situation which had 
arisen, forcing him to disband the Vieux-Colombier troupe in 
Paris. But on September 17, 1924, these rumors were laid to 
rest. In an open letter, U Accord Jacques Copeau-Louis Jouvet, 
Copeau dispelled the idle talk by announcing the agreement 
he had made with Jouvet 

I asked Louis Jouvet, my collaborator for eight years, to regroup, under 
his management at Comedie des Champs-Elysees, the various elements of 
the old Vieux-Colombier company. In addition to this, I authorized Jouvet 
to produce the unpublished plays, the manuscripts of which I turned over 
to him, to revive all the plays of my repertoire, and to welcome into his 
enterprise various activities formerly grouped together at the Vieux- 
Colombier, such as concerts, readings, and such. 

90 The Comedie des Champs-Elysee 

I cannot here reveal the reasons which impelled me, and so to speak, 
forced me to make a decision, which preoccupied my thoughts for a long 
time. And I don't feel that I am abandoning the struggle, since I am 
leaving behind me, to carry on with dignity, the two men who are my 
friends, two good workers, both of whom came from the Vieux-Colombier: 
Dullin at the Atelier and Jonvet at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. 41 

Thus, the public had BO further reason for conjecture or 
gossip. Everything was clear, everything had been brought 
out into the open. Louis Jouvet was delighted to be able to 
engage for the Comedie des Champs-Elysees some of the well- 
trained actors formerly with the Vieux-Colombier, and to come 
into possession of their repertoire as well. 42 

He announced that the unused subscription tickets to the 
Vieux-Colombier theatre would be honored at the box-office 
of the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. In May of this same year, 
Copeau, together with some of the pupils from his Paris school, 
settled in Bourgogne and studied, rehearsed, and gave oc- 
casional performances. 

On September 23, 1923, Jouvet received the following letter 
from Copeau, which sealed the friendship between them. 
My dear Jouvet, 

I am not old enough to live on memories alone. However, memories 
do come to mind as I prepare to wish you good luck. Remember the night 
when I surprised you in the wings of the Theatre du Chateau d'Eau to tell 
you that the Yieux-Colombier was about to come into being and invited 
you to join me in it. Remember our first rehearsals in the small shed at 
Limon. Remember the nights of work and that feeling of peaceful satis- 
faction when, everything in readiness, we breathed in the freshness of dawn 
on the sidewalk of du Dragon Street. Remember my daily letters which 
you used to read at your quarters during the first months of the war . . . 
and America. Remember everything that united us, our efforts a hundred 
times adapted to the circumstances, so many struggles, many victories. 
Remain worthy of these memories. I have only one wish: that you come 
closer and closer to them, as you grow older, that you love them more and 
more. You will find there, the spirit of work, of simplicity and devotion. 

It is not only a repertoire, some collaborators, certain methods oi woric, 
a certain point of view toward our art which I should like to transmit to 
you ; it is, above all, that living spirit which gives pride and beauty to all 
it inspires, lacking which one cannot create a work of art either great or 

I need not add that my good wishes accompany you. If I have confidence 

Becoming a Master 91 

In yon, it is because 1 believe in your success. At the moment of trying 

your fortune, may yon feel yourself completely free, but not completely 
alone. There is always an old friend to whom yon will never appeal in 
vain. 43 

Jouvet now looked forward to the opening of the new season 
with eager anticipation. He had already produced two success- 
ful plays, he had remodeled the Studio des Champs-Ely sees, 
had planned and completed the Salon de 1'Escalier, and hurd- 
led the first financial barriers. He had finally come to the 
pleasant conclusion that an actor's life is not so precarious 
after all if he is devoted to his task and is thoroughly con- 
versant with it. But this was only an expression of momentary 
optimism; an actor is so much the plaything of fashion and of 
the whims of audiences that he can never be sure of Ms re- 
putation and security from one month to the next. Jouvet, like 
so many actors before him, was to experience disheartening 
disappointments and some very bitter years, years filled with 
struggles and despair. 

Trials and Tribulations 

The instruction of the text alone is the guide; the text alone 
indicates how the play should be produced. 

To believe in the life and vitality of a play, to believe in its 
intrinsic value, in its message, seems to me, a little more each day, 
the way to approach the marvel of a theme, to move about in it 
and to present it to the audience, 1 

For the opening productions of the 1923-1924 season, Jouvet 
chose Knock and Romains' one-act play La Scintillante. Jon- 
vet's mise en scene for the latter play revealed to the full his 
powers of suggestion and vivid evocation. The bicycle shop 
with its twenty bicycles, and shelves and counter full of many 
types of metal objects, presented a sharp, brilliant and metal- 
lic impression, once again underlining Jouvet's penchant for 
the light and bright. 

Valentine Tessier and Louis Jouvet played the leading roles. 
As Calixte, the Count's son, whose only desire in life was to 
sell bicycles at a profit, Jouvet added another striking role to 
his already long list. His sense of comedy was most telling 
when translating the innermost feelings of this cretin-like, 
timid, and ridiculously gauche person. Every time Calixte 
sold a bicycle above list price it was cause for unusual re- 

Trials and Tribulations 93 

joicing and excitement, and Ms speech became choppy and 
sounded "like dried peas." 2 At such times, his expression 
changed, and his blinking eyes opened wide in a stare as a 
smile crossed his lips. 3 He was tall, fleshless, and his yellow 
make-up gave him a jaundiced appearance. As Claude Roger- 
Marx remarked, Jouvet's portrayal was cerebral in character; 
It was precise, metallic, and yet highly comic. 4 

Since Jouvet had now become more sure of himself in his 
new theatre, he decided to revive three plays which Copeau 
had previously produced successfully. Jouvet again acted the 
unforgetable Truchard in Emile Mazaud's La Folle Journee, 
and directed the one-act play by Jules Renard, Le Pain de 
Menage, and the three-act farce by Roger Martin du Gard, 
Le Testament du Pere Leleu. 

Pierre Seize wrote that while hatching Jouvet act in these 
plays he had, for the first time, actually understood the mean- 
ing of the word "artisan" in the sense in which it was applied 
to artists in the Middle Ages. In the theatre, it indicated one 
who was an all-around worker, one who had a comprehensive 
understanding of his material and who could play many diverse 
roles in both comedy and tragedy. Jouvet was one who fitted 
into such a catagory. Not only was Jouvet a masterly performer 
but he also understood the complete workings of the theatre. 5 

It is interesting to note that during this 'period Jouvet be- 
came even more interested in scenic problems and sound effects 
than heretofore. He would spend considerable time looking 
for objects which would make commonplace sounds, such as 
the banging of a door, the dropping of a book, a train whistle, 
and other noises which might be heard during the action of 
a play. He often told how difficult it had been for him to re- 
produce the factory sounds in Copeau's production of Les 
MauvaU Berbers in New York City. The sounds had to be 
almost constant, and interwoven, making something of a pat- 
tern as in music. The play is about a poor workman who had 
decamped, leaving wife and children destitute. Jouvet tried 

94 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

every conceivable instrument that might give the illusion of 
pile-driving and the noise of heavy factory doors being opened 
and banged shut. Two days before the production date, he 
still had not found what he wanted. Then, by mere chance, 
he hit on it a thick wooden door which he had opened, slam- 
med behind him, and which made just the noise he wanted. 6 
Gordon Craig gave performers sound advice when he wrote: 

Go where they are painting the scenes; go where they are twisting the 
electric wires for the lamps ; go beneath the stage and look at the elaborate 
constructions; go up over the stage and ask for information about the 
ropes and the wheels . . J 

Unlike Craig, Jouvet never tried to systematize his ideas. 
When, frequently, reporters asked him questions about the 
theory of his art, his profession, or his philosophy of comedy, 
he inevitably answered: 

I am not a theoretician . . . and I consider him eminently dangerous who 
lays down ideal plans on paper, all the more so if he is competent and if 
he produces a play in accordance with his theories, because the damage 
he does runs the risk of becoming contagious and pernicious, like gan- 
grene. 8 

He felt that everything in the theatre was in a constant state 
of flux. Therefore, there could be no fixed rules for the thea- 
tre, no set examples to be followed. Yet; though Jouvet would 
offer no theories, he had convictions, born of his experiences 
and reflections in the theatre. First, he believed that the actor 
should be guided by his intuition and senses much more than 
by his intellect (despite the fact that he was considered by 
some to be a cerebral actor). An actor could be great, ac- 
cording to Jouvet, only when he succeeded in creating "an 
absolute splitting of the personality," for only then could 
he impose the corporeal reality of his characterization on his 
audience. 9 But this precept is not easy to follow. The neo- 
phyte must devote many years to study and to hard work to 
achieve this end, and he must be sincerely and profoundly 
interested in his art. Jouvet found this extremely difficult, for 
every time he went on stage, even when completely possessed 

Trials and Tribulations 95 

by his character, Ms body succumbed to a certain nervous 
contraction, which affected him to such an extent that a kind 
of paralysis overcame him for several seconds. The calmer, 
the more self -possessed the character to be portrayed by Jon- 
vet, the more difficult it was for him. to be sufficiently relaxed. 
Sometimes he stiffened with fright and felt miserably inade- 
quate when he tried to give the impression of ease and natural- 
ness which a part called for. For this reason he felt that one 
of the most fatiguing roles he had ever assumed was that of 
Truchard in La Folle; the role of the depressed old 
man who saw no happiness ahead of him in the few years of 
life remaining. Jouvet's muscles would contract to such an 
extent that; "When I returned to my dressingroom, I would at 
once lie down, dripping with perspiration, not from the ex- 
haustion of my mind, but of my nervous system." 10 Yet, para- 
doxically, there could be nothing more relaxing for him than 
to act. 

Jouvet had an odd and unpleasant experience with the pro- 
duction, on December 8, 1924, of a three-act play, Malborough 
s 9 en va*t-en Guerre by his old friend Marcel Achard. The play 
aroused some so-called patriotic French citizens because they 
thought it was a quite unwarranted satire on the touchy sub- 
ject of the French and British armies. 11 Many in the audience, 
however, were charmed by the spirit of the author's jest. 
Malborough was merely a bit of delightful make-believe. When 
Malborough is killed, the audience does not grieve over his 
death. On the contrary, it applauds the outcome with great 
gusto, and considers the figures, historical or otherwise, no 
more than animated porcelain dolls. The play resembles a 
Viennese opera, colorful, comic and picturesque, where lovely 
ladies dressed in bright costumes dance like marionettes and 
express their sentiments in a delightfully poetic manner. It 
takes place in the realm of pure fantasy, weaving a lovely pat- 
tern of movement and color, much like a living tapestry of 
the ancien regime. 

96 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

"When Jouvet-Malborough appeared, dressed in his formid- 
able costume of horizon blue created by Jeanne Dubouchet, 
with outlandish armor and gear, and large plumes standing 
erect on his hat, he looked like a brilliantly plumed Don 
Quixote. He played Ms part with flourish, bombast, and 
braggadoccio, sometimes strutting like a windbag, provoking 
everyone to take a swing at him to deflate his pretensions. 12 
The audiences were delighted with him; for, despite his trucu- 
lence and bombast, Malborough was paradoxically a sympa- 
thetic character since he was so broadly human. Jouvet im- 
personated him with great precision, richness, and wit, bring- 
ing out his characteristics with salient gestures, his weaknesses, 
Ms cruelty, his ambitions, his grossness, Ms despotism, cynic- 
ism, and even, at times, his melancholy and jealous spirit. 13 

Although Malborough won the praise of such critics as 
Henri Bidou, Antoine and Robert de Flers, it was not a success. 

Jouvet, however, was so well satisfied with George Auric's 
fitting musical accompaniment that on January 31, 1925, when 
he produced Remains' Le Mariage de M. Le Trouhadec, he 
commissioned the composer to write the score for it. In this 
latest play by Remains, both author and actor were to en- 
counter their first really unsuccessful production in the theatre. 
The play differed greatly from M. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la 
Debauche, produced a year earlier. Lacking in movement and 
in satirical import, it did not impress its audiences. Those 
who had been willing to consider Romains as the innovator 
of a new type of comedy, replete with clownish drollery and 
subtle hilarity, were disconcerted by his latest failure in these 
respects. M. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la Debauche had been 
deemed brilliant by both critics and audiences. Knock, con- 
ceived within the same formula, was also a triumph and the 
keystone of Jouvet's success. But Le Mariage de M. Le Trou- 
hadec seemed to be an obscure, complicated, and rather ob- 
scene fable. The plot, poorly conceived, centered around the 
physical potency of a man seventy years old. Many of its- 

Trials and Tribulations 97 

characters were caricatures journalists, singers, members of 
political groups and committees, snobs, doctors, and somnam- 
bulists. The large number of roles only confused the spec- 
tators, and the author's attempts at comedy seemed heavy, 
labored, and crude. 14 

Jouvet, as Le Trouhadec, looked like a dummy filled with 
straw, which might, when but slightly jolted, completely dis- 
integrate. Being a master of make-up, he emphasized Trou- 
hadec's years, accentuating his premature age, which was the 
result of a debauched life. Jouvet conveyed this disintegration 
by employing a pathological loss of speech, or speech-block, 
which overcame him whenever he desperately tried to display 
Ms scholarly erudition, then he would touch his forehead, 
trying to jolt his intelligence into action. 

Georges Auric's music was charming and cast a merry mood 
over this otherwise dull piece. When Le Trouhadec talked, 
the music softly murmured its disrespect, and when his 
mistress, Mile Rolande, entered into a conversation with him, 
the orchestra played in a staccato-like manner, with skips, 
hops and jumps a rough comment on her character. Thus, 
the audience was intrigued by Auric's musical impressionism 
and not at all by the play. 15 

It is notable that even Jouvet's mise en scene lacked the 
brilliance and evocative power which had characterized so 
many of his other productions. However, as a director, he 
was successful in handling groups and mass movements with 
spirit and adroitness. 

Immediately after the failure of Le Mariage, rumors circu- 
lated in Paris to the effect that Jouvet would soon be forced 
to close his theatre because of a financial crisis. 16 The point 
was finally reached when the theatre was frequently invaded 
by police, bailiffs, and businessmen. The situation became 
intolerable for Jouvet; under these circumstances, he could 
no longer continue his work. 17 But he was not solely respons- 
ible for the crisis. He had a backer of sorts, who, Jouvet 

98 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

claimed, precipitated the crisis; but Jouvet was not one to 
divulge details to the newspapers. However, he said that if 
his hand were forced, he would not hesitate to give the entire 
story to the press. As the affair dragged on, his bitterness 
increased. 18 That same day, April 3, 1925, a letter by Colanerie, 
Jouvet's financial collaborator, appeared in Comoedia de- 
fending Ms own position and belittling that of his erstwhile 
friend. He reaffirmed his twenty-year-old friendship with 
J ouvet and indicated that if the actor would cooperate with 
him, the unpleasant situation could very rapidly be cleared up. 
Moreover, Colanerie stated that he had been good enough to 
sign the contract and lease in question, which included many 
important financial obligations, to make it possible for Jouvet 
to lease the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. Now, he wrote, 
Jouvet wanted to prolong the contract by all possible sub- 
terfuges, without being willing to assume any of the financial 
risks involved in the venture. On February 15, Colanerie 
had asked Jouvet to take over the contract, offering to give 
him sufficient time to get the capital together to liquidate his 
obligation. Jouvet was unwilling to do this, and finally took 
the initiative by deciding on legal action. In spite of Jouvet's 
belligerent attitude, said Colanerie, the date for repayment 
would be extended to April 9. 19 

This state of affairs continued for several days until on 
April 12, 1925, an agreement was finally reached whereby 
Rolf de Mare took over the lease in question and promised 
to do all in his power to forward Jouvet's theatrical career. 20 
Thus the heated conflict subsided, and, for a time at least, 
Jouvet was able to go about his business in relative peace of 

Meanwhile Jouvet had been engaged in the problems of the 
production of a new play, U Amour qui Passe, written by the 
Quintero brothers. This two-act fantasy which takes place in 
Andalusia, was to be given together with a revival of La 
Jalousie du Barbouille, which had been so successfully per- 

Trials and Tribulations 99 

formed by the actors of the Vieux-Colombier about a decade 
before. Although Jouvet did not act in L 9 Amour qui Passe, 
he directed it and created the lighting effects which communi- 
cated with extraordinary vividness the heat of an Andalusian 
midsummer's day. A radiant atmosphere surrounded the 
pretty young girls on the stage. Although the weather was 
intensely hot and calm, the wind at times caressed the pine 
trees, and this occasional movement, breaking on the complete 
atmospheric calm, infused the piece with a mild spirit of 
melancholy. The stage sets were in the tradition of the Vieux- 
Colombier simple, colorful, and made to blend harmoniously 
with the costumes. A trace of realism in the landscape was 
evident, however, in the long, shiny blades of grass which grew 
in thick clusters between the trees. But in general, the decor 
was characteristic of Jouvet's methods of abstraction, and it 
possessed a vivid and evocative power, which lent much to 
the charm and romance of the play. 

L 9 Amour qui Passe was not well received and, after only 
nine performances, was withdrawn. Then, once again, Jou- 
vet's pessimism came to the fore. Not only had his play failed, 
but his funds had also again reached a very low point. During 
this period of financial strain, he and the personnel of the 
theatre were obliged, for the sake of economy, to construct 
the sets for their plays. Jouvet's situation was not to be re- 
Eeved in the near future, and his finances were to sink even 
lower with his next production, Tripes d'Or by Fernand 

One afternoon, during rehearsals, Jouvet paid a visit to 
Antoine. Antoine complimented him on his choice of Crom- 
melynck as a playwright worth producing. But when Jouvet 
informed him that the play was a social satire, depicting the 
vanity of wealth and the evils of capitalistic exploitation, 
Antoine's optimism retreated. He explained that "money" 
was a touchy subject to handle in the theatre and more than 
one author had met disaster by using it as a theme. Even 

100 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

Moliere's L'Avare was performed only eighteen times during 
Ms lifetime. 21 In spite of this rather bleak outlook, Jouvet 
was willing to take the risk because he thought the play was 
outstanding. 22 

But neither Jouvet's fine acting as the old drunken servant 
Muscar, nor the evocative sets, nor even the brilliance and 
originality of the costumes could sustain Tripes cfOr; the 
play fell flat. The next day, Jouvet noted that one critic, with 
his characteristic vulgar jubilation over a failure, said of the 
play "Ces tripes ne valent pas tripettes" [These trivia are 
worthless]. Three days later, after having performed the 
play only five times, Jouvet called it a day. Once again he 
was forced to place Knock on the billboards in order to recoup 
some of his terrible losses. 23 

During the run of Tripes cF Or, Jouvet said there were more 
ushers in the theatre than there were spectators. One night, 
just before curtain time, an usher asked him if he intended to 
perform Tripes if Or. Jouvet looked at him questioningly, so 
the usher informed him that there were only thirteen people 
in the theatre, nine in the orchestra and four in the balcony. 
Knock had already been posted on the billboards, but Jouvet 
appeared in front of the curtain to ask his sparse audience 
which play they had come to see. Three answered they had 
come to see Tripes cFOr, and five said they had already seen 
Knock. Finally, after some deliberation, Jouvet decided to 
give Knock for thirteen people. He remarked later that the 
good will of his small audience, its enthusiasm and applause 
were as flattering to him as If he had had a full house. Two days 
later, Knock had rallied its old audiences to the theatre's 
support and the Comedie des Champs-Elysees was once again 
a bustling and busy place. Few plays, as Jouvet noted, had 
this unusual power of attraction. 24 

Four months after the painful imbroglio attending the 
leasing of the Comedie des Champs-Elysees, Romains and 
several other of Jouvet's friends began to explore the possibili- 

Trials and Tribulations 101 

ties of founding a "Societe Louis Jouvet" to assure financial 
backing for Ms productions. On August 21, 1925, arrange- 
ments were satisfactorily concluded for founding such a 
society. A capital fund of 300,000 francs, raised by the sale 
to the public of 600 shares at 500 francs each, was established. 
Thereafter, thanks to Jouvet's loyal friends, his life as a di- 
rector was more secure. In consequence, he was in a healthier 
position to pursue his arduous routine of sixteen to eighteen 
hours every day. The lessening of his financial worries again 
permitted him some peace of mind, not to mention the en- 
couragement that the faith of his friends gave him. 

And in a more relaxed manner he began staging Charles 
Vildrac's three-act play Madame Beliard. When Vildrac had 
first shown his play to Jouvet, it was entitled CHmat Tempere. 
But the author was not satisfied with the title, and during the 
summer months, when both author and actor spent many 
hours discussing it together at St. Tropez, they sought a new 
title. Another matter occasioned discussion between them; 
Jouvet was convinced that Vildrac did not understand Madame 
Beliard's true character, maintaining that the heroine was a 
frigid, subtle, and complicated person whose womanly instincts 
had never been fully awakened. Vildrac, on the contrary, felt 
that she was a nice and unpretentious middle-class woman 
who merely sought calm and security. In spite of these differ- 
ences of opinion, the author permitted Jouvet to produce the 
play as he understood it. 25 Thus Madame Beliard was portray- 
ed as a calculating woman incapable of falling in love with her 
devoted admirer, Robert Saulnier, played by Constant Remy. 

When he cast the play, Jouvet's funds were still rather 
meager (the "Societe Louis Jouvet" had just been formed) 
and thus he could not afford to offer Mile Tessier a long-term 
contract, not knowing whether the play would be successfuL 
Dissatisfied with Jouvet's compromise offer, the actress signed 
a contract with the Theatre de la Michodiere. She opened 
there in a play which was a complete failure. In the meantime, 

102 The Comedie des Champs-Ely sees 

Jouvet had engaged Alice Bella to play the part of Madame 
Beliard. 26 

The sets for Madame Beliard were more realistic than the 
earlier ones. A typical office with large windows, from which 
the dye-works could be seen, included a cast-iron stove and 
a large desk. Madame Beliard's living room, the setting for 
the second act, was furnished with Dufrene-style chairs and 
an Empire secretary; on the walls hung several charming 
paintings, one of which came from Vildrac's private art col- 
lection. 27 J ouvet also borrowed a piano for the play from the 
Director of the Salie Pleyel. 28 He did not neglect or overlook 
a single detail in this set, so intent was he on trying to type a 
background for the piece. He even inclnded samples of the 
blue-greens and reds of the dye-works and other colorful pro- 
ducts of the family-owned industry. Some of the period 
furniture appeared definitely out of place; but the confusion 
of styles was justified on the ground that Mme Beliard was 
not a Parisian, but a provincial without distinguishing taste. 

Andre Billy, delighted with the production of Madame 
Beliard, wrote: 

Probity, sentimentality, delicacy, finesse, extreme clarity of scenic design 
that clarity and artistic neatness which one savors with pleasure in the 
works of the young playwrights, and which no doubt constitutes a reaction 
against the boulevard improvisations, stands as their principal quality, as 
if it were the trademark they hold in common. Mr. Vildrac's new play will 
be a brilliant success. It has what it takes for that. And besides, what 
acting! There is not a role which is not perfectly portrayed. 29 

Benjamin Cremieux felt that although the play was less poetic 
in quality than Vildrac's preceeding plays, it surpassed them 
in scenic beauty and psychological depth. Its sobriety, truth- 
fulness and simplicity made of it "a perfect play." 30 

In the second play of the evening, Romains' Demetrios, 
Jouvet undertook the role of an adventurer, an unscrupulous 
and dangerous man. He was a black-haired, black-eyed, and 
black-mustached Levantine, intent on seducing the maid and 
the daughter of a well-to-do bourgeois family. His green tinted 

Trials and Tribulations 103 

face appeared gouiish, eerie, and devilish at times. His red 
lips accentuated the sparkling whiteness of his teeth, and his 
gray jacket was an effective foil tor the pink tie which emerged 
from beneath his large cape. White gaiters added the finishing 
touch to his fantastic costume. Jouvet could use tobacco with 
telling effect to emphasize character traits. He achieved an 
almost Forain-like caricatural appearance. He stood erect 
while curling and caressing his mustache with a single slick 
finger encircled by brilliantly sparkling rings. His suave man- 
ners succeeded in winning the daughter's affections as well as 
the father's bank account. But in the end, he was exposed 
as a crook wanted by the police of many countries, including 
those of the Far East. 

The play was generally not well received and the critics, 
in their reviews, indicated a rising tide of resentment against 
Romains. They Qould no longer tolerate his overpowering 
conceit and bumptiousness. Andre Billy was among those who 
gave veiled expression to this general feeling. 

The evening ended with an incoherent sketch by Jules Romains, Deme- 
trios, in which Jouvet found the opportunity of presenting one of those 
most haunting figures of which he 1 holds the secret. Everybody laughed 
a lot. Not I. I definitely do not go for Jules Romains* comedy. 31 

Louis Jouvet was now regarded not only as an outstanding 
actor and craftsman of the theatre, but also as a philosopher 
of theatrical arts, though he had never formulated a system. 
He himself had written several articles on theatrical subjects 
and had been written about many times. On January 25, 1926, 
he was to make his first major speech entitled "Theatrical 
Technique : The Theatrical Profession" to a packed auditorium 
of students of psychology and drama. The Pelman Institute 
had invited him to lecture during its International Congress of 
Psychology held in Paris. Jouvet was pleased to think that 
the Directors of the Pelman Institute, a center of psychological 
studies, should include the theatre in their field of study, and 
that they should single him out to be the theatre's spokesman. 

104 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

After discussing in Ms lecture the interdependence of things 
theatrical, the goal of the director, and the functions of collab- 
orating members and their contributions to productions, he 
passed on to the economic aspects of the theatre. He laid 
particular stress on the fact that the taxes now being imposed 
by the government served to drain the resources of a modern 
theatre. Of the thirty francs paid by the spectator for an 
orchestra seat, ten went to the government. Another sorry 
aspect of the economic situation was the necessity of price 
cutting of tickets; tickets were sold all over Paris at almost 
half price (for nine or ten francs) to attract audiences to the 
theatres. The director's life was nerve wracking because he 
was at the mercy of the whims and moods of audiences and 
critics. Most directors, Jouvet said, especially those at the 
Odeon, died in poverty or went insane; this had happened so 
many times that It had become a standing joke. The poet 
Banville used to tell about a coachman and his fare. The fare 
asked the coachman to drive him to the Odeon, at which the 
coachman retorted: "Sir, lower your voice, the horse can hear." 
In Ms lecture, Jouvet also covered the more profound aspects 
of the theatre, especially the moment dramatique or miracle; 
finally, he pleaded with his audiences to keep the theatre 
alive by aiding it in all possible ways. This lecture gave him 
the reputation of an authority. 

By now it had been brought home more clearly than ever 
to Jouvet that his theatre could be kept healthy only by play- 
ing to full houses. By necessity he must stage plays which 
people from all walks of life would enjoy. While he had al- 
ways avowed on this, he had not always practiced It. Now he 
was forced to do so. He therefore decided to produce Bernard 
Zimmer's latest work, Bava UAfricain. 

Jouvet had known Bernard Zimmer since both men had 
lived at 18 Rue Bonaparte several years before. They used to 
walk to their respective offices together every morning; Jouvet 
to the Comedie des Champs-Elysees and Zimmer to the Haut- 

Trials and Tribulations 105 

Commissariat des Provinces du Rhin. After Jouvet had ac- 
cepted Bava UAfricain for production, they spent part of the 
summer of 1926 discussing the play together at Crecy-en-Brye. 
From February until opening night, April 26, the actors, 
director, and author worked steadily rehearsing it. 32 

In Bava UAfricain Zimmer treated a subject relatively 
popular in literature. The Bava type, a highly imaginative 
Ear, has been exploited in France from Corneille's time to 
Alphonse Daudet's, from Dor ante to Tartarin, and into our 
own times. Bava, a mixture of Don Quixote and Tartarin de 
Tarascon, was the spinner of tall tales about his fabulous trips 
to Africa, his great courage in tight spots, and his unbelievably 
narrow escapes. 

Jouvet, as both director and actor, avoided the usual pitfalls 
common to both. As director, he read a manuscript without 
being preoccupied with the thought of finding a good part 
for Mr. Z or Miss Y; as an actor, he chose for himself the role 
most properly suited to him and played it with mischievous 
gaiety. His long silhouette, accentuated by his colonial costume, 
a fantastic creation in itself, his dark skin burned by the sun, 
and his ludicrous mannerisms, made him look very much as 
one would expect Bava to look. His nervous twitching and his 
amazing gestures (particularly, his fussing over his pants which 
were too short and a jacket which was a little too tight) , added 
broad strokes to the overall portrayal. Jouvet again revealed 
his fine sense of impersonation, relating his adventures with 
perfect conviction and yet looking like a man prone to imagin- 
ings. Pierre Brisson, commenting on his portrayal, wrote: 

Jouvet made a startling creation out of Bava. Emaciated, angular, with 
a certain strange gleam in his eye, he gave this rustic Don Quixote an 
epic bearing, the memory of which obsesses one. It is admirably com- 
posed. 33 

When Jouvet revived Bava L'Africain several years later, 
he worked on a fresh approach to it, as if he had never pro- 
duced it. In a letter to Lucien Aguettand he stated that at his 

106 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

suggestion the author had rewritten parts of the manuscript. 

I am sending yon, as you requested me, a resume of Bava. I must point 
out to you that Zimmer made a few corrections and added an act, while 
omitting another, which balances the play. 

In Act IV one Is present at Bava's death. He is lying on his bed, 
delirious, while Mme Soin, to whom he is asking news of her son who 
has sailed for the Congo, contrives a letter in which it is evinced that 
the memory of Bava is still very much alive in the African countries. 

To enlighten the audience, an inspector of the Paris detective force 
arrives. He has come to hold an investigation with precise information 
about Bava, which proves that Bava never went to the Congo. The play 
ends with Bava's death, reminiscent of Don Quixote's, during which the 
gate-keeper, who had come to pay his respects, wearing all his decorations* 
stands respectfully at attention, while tearfully lamenting the loss of the 
great leader. 

I think that this new ending is far superior to the other. 34 

Since J onvet's attitude toward the production, of a play under- 
went frequent revision, it was a rare play that remained un- 
changed once it came into his hands. A rewriting usually took 
place some time before the beginning of rehearsals. In fact, 
Jouvet would frequently have the author rewrite parts after 
the opening performance. 35 

As director of the Comedie des Champs-Elysees, Jouvet was 
always on the lookout for good plays. When the Vieux- 
Colomhier had produced Bost's play U Imbecile in 1925, it 
had been relatively successful. Therefore, Jouvet wrote to 
Pierre Bost on August 14, 1925, asking him for one of his 
manuscripts. 30 But unlike If Imbecile, Bost*s new play, Deux 
Paires cFAmis, was flat and lacked sufficient drama to interest 
an audience. 37 Jouvet himself gave little attention to the 
production because he was preoccupied at the same time with 
his next production, Le Dictateur, hy Remains. Therefore, 
he permitted his stage-manager to direct and stage Deux Paires 
d'Amis, Bost did not blame Jouvet for the failure; many years 
later, he himself considered the play to be mediocre. 38 

Those who had been invited to see Deux Paires 3? Amis on 
September 2, 1926, were astonished to find an exhibition of 
modern paintings at the Gomedie des Champs-Elysees. The 

Trials and Tribulations 107 

idea of using the corridors and the walls above the staircases 
to exhibit works of art had long been in J olivet's mind, but 
had not been realized until now. Some well-known contempo- 
rary painters eventually showed their works there Lhote, 
Kisling, Friesz, and VLaminck. Sculptures by the decorative 
artists Bourdelle, Arnold, and Besnard were also displayed, 3 

In contrast to the stained and often drab walls of most thea- 
tres, the clean, spacious walls of the Comedie des Champs- 
Elysees presented an excellent background and afforded the 
contemporary artist a fresh group of spectators every night. 
This Salon de FEscalier became a permanent institution, as 
did the Salon d'Art Decoratif and the Salon du Livre. 40 

Jouvet read all the criticisms of the Bost play, but undis- 
couraged by them, began to stage Remains' four-act play Le 
Dictateur. Le Dictateur had previously been rejected by the 
reading committee of the Comedie-Francaise, As Paul Adbard 

An unprecedented occurrence marked this incident. In general, and ac- 
cording to venerable tradition, the author awaits the verdict in the direc- 
tor's office. In this case, Mr. Fahre went to fetch Jnles Romains in Ms 
office and solemnly ushered him into the committee room in order to 
convey to him* with everybody's compliments, the condolences of all. 41 

The reading committee was prompted to refuse Le Dictateur 
because of its subject matter and the possibly dangerous po- 
litical passions which its production might stir up. After the 
press had commented on this rejection, Pierre Daladier, 
Minister of Education, asked permission to read it. Daladier 
enjoyed the play and wrote the reading committee, expressing 
his surprise at its rejection. He said that he would assume all 
responsibility for any political repercussions which might a- 
rise from its production. The play was thereupon accepted 
by the Comedie-Franaise. However, during the time which 
had elapsed between the first reading of the play, in December, 
1925, and its acceptance in February, 1926, the author had 
given it to Jouvet who had already begun staging it for an 

108 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

April opening. 42 But when Jouvet heard of the Comedie- 
Frangaise's change of mind, he returned his option on the play 
to Remains. 

Fab re and Ronaains had many discussions ah out the pro- 
duction of Le Dictateur and later Alexandre, actor and stage 
director of the Comedie-Fran^aise, took part in these talks. 
Fabre decided to produce the play in October, 1926. But when 
Remains was informed in June that work on Le Dictateur had 
not yet begun and that it could not possibly be produced in 
October, nor even during the season 1926-1927, he was so in- 
censed that he promptly withdrew it and returned it to Jouvet. 
Once again, Jouvet began to work on it. He engaged actors, 
signed contracts, and began rehearsals. On the evening of 
June 10, the Comedie-Fran^aise telephoned Romains, inform- 
ing him that they would be able to produce the play in Fe- 
bruary. Romains replied that other arrangements had been 
made. On June 24, Alexandre proposed the following arrange- 
ment: the Comedie-Frangaise would produce the play on 
October 1, 1926 and would take over the contracts already 
signed by Jouvet's actors. Jouvet once again relinquished his 
rights, suggesting that the press be informed of what had 
happened. But the spokesman for the House of Moliere pre- 
ferred to wait until after all the contracts had been signed. 
Two weeks later, Jouvet and Romains were still waiting. On 
July 6, the Comedie-Frangaise informed Jouvet they were still 
interested in Le Dictateur, but refused to buy up the contracts 
which Jouvet's cast had already signed. Upon receipt of this 
note, Jouvet wrote Emile Fabre that he was going to produce 
the play and so terminated Faffaire Dictateur. 43 

Jouvet's stage settings were evocative and interesting. 44 IB 
spite of these stage sets, the elaborate lighting and interesting 
directing, the play was not well received. The plot was overly 
complicated, verbose, and too full of political discussions. The 
second act could have been omitted without loss to the play, 
because it lacked sufficient movement and was too weighted 

Trials and Tribulations 109 

down with a philosophy which, was vague and never fully com- 
prehensible to the audience. 45 Andre Rouveyre was severe in 
his criticisms, declaring that what he saw was a "survaloiisa- 
tion extreme" of the author himself. 

Once again, Jouvet's funds showed signs of running out, only 
80,000 francs remaining in the till. In September, Jouvet real- 
ized that there was hardly sufficient money left to pay off the 
expenses incurred by the production of Le Dictateur. Francen, 
Laffon, Vargas, and Mauloy were expensive actors and the 
daily budget for the play ran 3,500 francs in excess of the 
2,000 francs Jouvet had allotted to it. 46 But there was one hope- 
ful aspect in the situation; Charov, in the name of the Moscow 
Art Theatre (The Prague Group of the Moscow Art Theatre) , 
had put in a request to sublet the Comedie des Champs-Elysees 
during the month of November. Charov and Guermanova, of 
the same troupe, represented the most talented elements of 
Stanislavski's theatre. They planned to give thirty performan- 
ces in the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. 47 Charov was prepared 
to pay Jouvet 2,000 francs a day, which would amount to 60,000 
francs a month. During this period, Jouvet could work on a 
play which he had planned to produce a long time ago, Out" 
ward Bound, by Sutton Vane. 48 

After the Charov troupe had terminated its tenancy, Jouvet 
resumed production of Le Dictateur. This time Le Goff, a less 
well-known actor, replaced Francen, and the cost of production 
dropped from 5,500 francs a day to 2,500 francs. 49 

With the return to a more normal state of affairs, Jouvet 
felt easier. 

On May 22, 1926, Jouvet was made Chevalier of the Legion 
of Honor because of his outstanding work in the theatre. A 
modest individual, he took the honor in stride, though natur- 
ally pleased by it. 50 The better known he became, the busier 
he was, and since his manifold duties were increasing, he 
found it almost impossible to attend to everything single- 
handed. He therefore surrounded himself with a talented group 

110 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

of co-workers; Lucien Agnettand for technical aid, Gilbert 
Perrin for construction, Bay and Ma this for things mechanical 
and electrical, Madame Helary for costumes, and Jeanne Du- 
bouchet, his general assistant, for aid in the design and super- 
vision of the construction of stage sets. 51 

During this period, by another stroke of good fortune, Jouvet 
was able to free himself further, for a short time at least, from 
financial embarrassement. One October evening Leon Blum 
and his brother Rene, the Director of the Casino of Monte- 
Carlo, visited him at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees and in- 
vited him to open his new play Outward Bound by Sutton Vane 
at the Casino. Rene Blum offered Jouvet 30,000 francs. He ac- 
cepted. Moreover, Rene Blum would give him the money at 
once to help him out. On December 15, 1926, Jouvet left with 
his troupe for Monte-Carlo. 52 

Outward Bound had been brought to Jouvet's attention by 
Andre Maurois. After having read the work in English, Jouvet 
telegraphed the author requesting him to hold the play for 
Ms option. Vane agreed to do so. 53 Vane had begun writing 
Outward Bound in July, 1923, and it was not completed until 
September, 1926, shortly before its production at the Every- 
man Theatre in London. Still quite young, Vane had already 
won world-wide fame as a man of action and free-thinker. In 
this play, he undertook the most solemn of themes, that of 
the afterlife. Since its opening in 1926, the play had been suc- 
cessfully produced in more than twenty countries. It had been 
translated and adapted into five languages. Paul Verola made 
the translation which Jouvet used. 54 

Outward Bound was difficult to produce. Its atmosphere was 
a compound of comedy, tragedy, and spectacle, and the tone 
was eerie. If not well directed and acted, it might seem cheap 
and sensational. The curtains opened in Act I on an ocean liner, 
lit by bizarre greenish tints. An impassive looking fellow 
(Auguste Boverio) stood behind the bar, shaking cocktails. 
When the lights brightened, the bartender spoke in a voice 

Trials and Tribulations 111 

which seemed to come from a great distance, chilling and fune- 
real. In time, passengers talking to each other entered the bar: 
Tom Prior (Jouvet), a tall, thin young man, cynical and an 
alcoholic; Mr. Duke (Robert Moor), a young clergyman in- 
clined to good-will and charity toward all; Lingley (Robert 
Bogar) , a businessman, at times choleric; Mrs. Cliveden-Banks 
(Suzanne Behr), a coquettish, vain, and evil old woman; Mrs. 
Midget (Jane Lory), a commonplace middleclass woman; and 
a young couple in love, Anne (Cecile Guyon) and Henry (S. 
Nadaud) . In Act III, Mr. Thompson (Michel Simon) , a clergy- 
man and searcher of souls, made his appearance. Thus, Sutton 
Vane presented a cross-section of humanity. 

In the stage sets, Jouvet attempted startling effects. He 
reduced scenery to a minimum a mahogony bar, a few wooden 
chairs, small tables, scarlet plush benches, and portholes. 
Nonetheless, he still gave the audience the illusion of being 
on the ocean, and because of this, or partly because of it, en- 
abled it to participate more intimately in the action. 55 

How Jouvet created the illusion of a ship at sea, the constant 
surge and roll which the audience felt so irresistibly, was not 
hit upon by chance. His first concern was to see that the scenery 
was not too pretentious, that it did not encumber the action 
or give an air of artifice to the play. He wanted to create a 
living ship, a ship going steadily on. To achieve just the right 
atmosphere, he had to suggest dark, foreboding overtones. The 
waves, which the audience could see through the portholes, 
partly served to create the desired mood. The waves undulated, 
shimmered; they rose and glided toward the mysterious line 
of the horizon. Their measured and relentless massive move- 
ment contributed to the creation of a slow, steady march to- 
ward fate, toward doom. 58 

To suggest was what Jouvet wanted to do above all. He 
selected elements indispensable to the effects desired and link- 
ed them together to realize a significant impression, which 
though delicately perceptible, was yet deeply felt. As he him- 

112 The Comedie des Champs-Efysees 

self wrote: "Never ask oneself whether life is like that, but 
evoke life in its significance. 57 

What was essential to give the illusion of a ship's barroom 
was not so much the shining cocktail mixers, or the brightly 
polished pewter, or even the replica of a regular ship's bar; 
rather it was the movement of the ocean corresponding to the 
rhythmic intention of the play. Once this mystical correspon- 
dence was achieved it would communicate itself and carry the 
audience along in its sweep. Jouvet succeeded in creating this 
mood. His ocean was made of elastics simple elastic bands. 

My ocean consists of three dark-green levels which the projectors tint the 
various nuances of water. The netting; hides the lower part and they are 
held in place by thin steel threads attached lo the flies. These threads 
are connected with propeEing flies worked directly by elastic mechanisms. 
The degree of intensity of the propulsion agitates, to the same degree, the 
three levels which are activated by the sides (about a man's height), with 
different horizontal movements, while the horizon line itself, a simple 
strip of linen which turns around two stationary pivots, slowly shifts. 58 

He had given long thought to the stage sets before the actual 
production of the play. In a letter to Lucien Aguettand he 

A few hasty notes which I should like you to read with Maraval to 
prepare for return. 

1. First: the possibility of 2 casings in auditorium and stage, with lights. 
Green or blue or reddish blue, therefore have colored lights. 

2. Prepare color masks for the klieg lights, etc., blues, yellows, greens, 

3. Projection from above if possible (or else from the prompter's box) 
for Thomson Siemens. Auto light, 6 to 12 volts on a storage cell or 
on reduced current. 

4. Prepare a new ceiling. 

5. Prepare a ceiling ventilator which would work while turning slowly 
(on a rheostat with reduced current with a voltage light), Act II. 

6. The brackets are a little too large. 

7. To have 3 supplementary projectors at our disposal in order to 
achieve an interesting effect (of the I type) . 

8. To work on an impressive siren this is of the utmost importance. 

9. A drum from Toumier or elsewhere, a regimental drum. 

10. Mercury lamps in working order. 

11. Stage lights 3 and 4 to be fitted with yellow, blue, and red lamps. 

Trials and Tribulations 113 

The touching up is to be done on the spot, and find out when we can 

have the lighting at the comedies. I will wire the hour of my arrival. 
Make up a timetable. 59 

In the role of the drunkard Tom Prior, Jouvet added another 
to his list of brilliant creations. Tom Prior, poor weak soul, 
subject to hallucinations, terror, remorse and all the painful 
concomitants of these afflictions could only drown his distress 
in liquor. t>0 Jouvet ably communicated the progressive terror 
of Tom Prior. When he first appeared, he was outwardly calm 
and sipped his whiskey slowly; but when he began fully to 
realize his plight, together with that of his fellow passengers, 
Ms actions became more agitated, brusque, and sometimes in- 
coherent; his voice quavered, and in many ways he revealed 
the fright creeping upon him, leading to inevitable despera- 
tion. 61 

This young alchoholic reveals his personality more through his acting than 
through the dialogue. It is not a question here of a passing intoxication, 
but of deep perturbations. There is no staggering, none of the classical 
drunken maneuvers, but abrupt, short, incoherent, futile gestures, choppy 
speech, a disconcerting manner of delivery, brusk eff acements, and anxious 
glances. 62 

Outward Bound, which opened on December 28, 1926, was a 
great hit. Those in the audience who remained unmoved at 
the end of the first act could not resist the power and envelop- 
ing mystery of the second; they were completely won over, 
captivated, and enthralled at the end of the play. 63 Many con- 
sidered it a faultless piece, faultlessly acted, with no one actor 
trying to outdo the other. Jouvet himself was described as 
being "remarkably natural and anxious." 64 Andre Rivollet 
remarked that Jouvet emphasized neither the tragic nor the 
comic aspects of this play, that he scrupulously adhered to the 
text. 65 

Now that Jouvet had successfully produced a play by an 
English author, he decided to turn to a Russian writer. He 
chose Gogol's Le Revizor (The Inspector General), a five-act 
satire on the mores of government officials during the reign 

114 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

of Nicholas I. The play had first been translated into the 
French by Prosper Merimee and was adapted by Madame 
Olga Chonmansky and Jules Delacre for Jouvet. Jules Delacre, 
of the defunct Theatre du Marais in Brussels, assisted Jouvet 
in the direction. 

When Meyerhold had produced Le Revizor, his interpreta- 
tion had been cpiite different from that of Gogol's time. This 
was cpiite natural. As Meyerhold said, every production should 
reflect the spirit of the age. 

The theatre is entirely fiction ; nothing happens except In the mind oi the 
spectator; it is necessary therefore to intensify the vision, not only in its 
ensemble on which the attention focuses, Irat in a suhlety of details which 
must be so right and so striking that the character assumes an absolute 
intensity; and everyone adds to it, according to the impression thus re- 
ceived, the environment that he requires to feel the emotion of the 
incident. 68 

Meyerhold, greatly admiring Giotto, tried to create extremely 
simple, almost primitive stage sets. The characteristics of pre- 
cision, careful preparation, simplicity, often to the point of 
abstraction, linked Meyerhold to Jouvet. They were kindred 
spirits in the theatre. 67 Jouvet's production was to recall, in 
style at least, that of Meyerhold. 

The leading character, that of Hestakoff (Jouvet) , is a uni- 
versal type. He is met with everywhere in official circles. He 
is, however, definitely from the Midi; fabrications and mis- 
chief-making seem to exhilarate him, and he lies as naturally 
as a dog barks. His conscience never bothers him. The type 
would feel as much at home on Rib as Street in Odessa, as he 
would on the Cannebiere in Marseille. 68 Jouvet's acting, which 
covered a wide range of expression, from the delight he took 
in planning mischief to MB lapses into maudlin drunkenness, 
was permeated with a high degree of skill and subtlety. In the 
beginning Klestakoff seems unsure of himself and is whirled 
into the vortex of events instead of guiding them. He is frighten- 
ed and timid about voicing his opinions and even stammers at 
times* But as he gains in self-confidence he finally becomes a 

Trials and Tribulations 115 

mischief-loving monomaniac, a reckless liar, in love with de- 
ception for its own sake. Jouvet expressed this aspect of his 
character with a gaiety and vigor that brought out all the ex- 
hilarating humor in it. Rober de Flers remarked that Jouvet 
played the part with frenzied fantasy and almost constant 
agitation. 69 His drunken scenes impressed many, because they 
were so right, so aptly done, so much in character. When 
Klestakoff-Jouvet attempted to grasp the arm of a chair to 
steady himself and sit down, the chair slid away from him, 
and he fell to the floor. This action might easily have been 
mishandled and achieved a reverse effect with laughter aimed 
at Jouvet himself and not at the character. But Jouvet's inter- 
pretation struck just the right note. 70 

"We had to find a point of view, to redeem the incident of banality; rigid, 
he permits himself to be carried by his hosts ; and, silent, motionless, with 
an anxious look and vaguely disturbed hy that hrutal warning, he imposes 
silence on the audience, as if something of weight were going to happen . . . 
It is probably by falling that he prevents this rather weak play from doing 
as much. 71 

Etienne Rey made one reservation; he was annoyed by Jouvet's 
confused and unintelligible stuttering and declared it unpar- 

Le Revizor actually launches a satire on a forgotten epoch. 
Its characters are strange and might baffle or even repel modern 
audiences. But Jouvet's adaptation of the play made it com- 
prehensible and thoroughly enjoyable. Etienne Rey was the 
only one to remark that Jouvet had gone too far in his moderni- 
zation and had altered the play out of its true character. 72 

Jouvet turned Le Revizor into a farce, feeling, that a satire 
on a nineteenth-century Russian county-administration could 
not possibly interest his contemporaries. So he made much 
of the grotesque and comic qualities of the play. 73 However, 
like Robert de Flers, many critics were of the opinion that 
Jouvet had overdone the comic elements. 74 But Jouvet main- 
tained that modern audiences would have been repelled by 
the brute realistic nature of Russian character and might have 

116 The Comedie des Champs-Bfysees 

found the story hard to follow and altogether repugnant. By 
Ms added emphasis and comic distortions, the audience was 
able to understand the significance of the play and fully enjoy 
it. 75 Claude Berton was enthusiastic about the production* 

The interpretation of the Revizor is remarkable for its unity and color; 
the nuances are at the same time extremely vivid and perfectly combined 
and Mended; with the result that the sets, the costumes, all the least little 
details witness the meticulous care taken and they have been merged into 
a harmonious whole. Each character possesses its accentuated physiog- 
nomy but without the grotesquely systematic arrangement oi the circus 
figures... The Revizor is one of Jonvet's best production, whose deco- 
rative style, generally similar to that of an artistic poster, often lacks 
depth of background and places the actors on the forestage under a skil- 
fully arranged but harsh light, without any upstage. 76 

J onvet now felt so sure of his ground and of Ms place in the 
theatre that he decided it was time for Mm to be more venture- 
some and to aim higher. He planned to do a completely new 
production of Moliere's UEcole des Femmes and a Shake- 
spearean play not yet chosen. He also planned to produce 
works by young French dramatists, such as Pierre Lievre, 
Steve Passeur, Claude-Roger Marx, and adaptations of foreign 
works such as Ben Jonson's Volpone adapted by Stephen Zweig 
and Jules Romains. At this time Jouvet was working on the 
costumes and sets of White Cargo by Leon Gordon. At this 
period also, Jean Giraudoux, for whom Jouvet was developing 
an increasing fondness, began to visit him at his office in the 
theatre. Giraudoux was already known as a brilliant essayist 
and as the author of Siegfried et le Limousin and Suzanne et 
le Pacifique 

Before producing any of the above-mentioned plays, Jouvet 
became interested in a three-act work Leopold le Bien-Aime 
by Ms old friend Jean Sarment. Sarment had already sub- 
mitted the play to the Comedie-Frangaise at the suggestion of 
Madame Dussane and Leon Bernard, who had enjoyed read- 
ing it. EmUe Fabre, director of the Comedie-Frangaise, was 
far from enthusiastic. A week after receiving it, he returned 

Trials and Tribulations 117 

It to Its author. Fabre said that neither he nor the reading 
committee could make sense of it, and they were convinced 
that it would he a failure. Sannent, disheartened, showed It 
to J onvet. 78 J onvet was so touched by it that he wrote Sarment 
the f oUowing letter. 
My dear Jean, 

I have just been crying while reading Leopold and I must tell you how 
attached I am to him and in consequence to you. 

I have nothing else to tell you. 

I send my love. 79 

Jouvet was going to play Leopold. He wanted Sarment, a good 
actor who had performed in some of the Vieux-Colombier 
productions, to play the part of the priest, Leopold's brother. 80 
The author was delighted to accept the proposal. 81 

The priest wore a black robe which made him stand out 
like a big blob of black ink against the shimmering variegated 
green countryside. Leopold, on the other hand, was somewhat 
odd; he wore an old conical-shaped hat, his jacket was care- 
lessly buttoned, and In general he was clothed in mild disarray. 
Every time he leaned over, his shirt would gape. He was snap- 
pish and irritable; the priest was tender and conciliatory. 
Their meeting, after many years of separation, was moving. 
But their differences of character and outlook were always 
strongly marked. For instance, wheu they went fishing, the 
priest carried his rod in silence and Leopold, who considered 
himself an expert fisherman, harangued his brother with his 
weighty theories on the subject. When Leopold sat down to 
fish, he demanded complete silence, taking the sport very 
seriously, and pounced on his brother every time he started 
to talk. 82 But there were other sides to Leopold's nature. In 
order to bring out the joyful notes, Jouvet stylized his acting 
with somewhat attenuated geometric gestures. 83 

An amusing incident, which was turned to good use, oc- 
curred during a performance. Michel Simon, as the mailman, 
on his way to his dressing room, walked onto the stage Instead. 
Jouvet was so surprised by his unexpected appearance that 

118 The Comedie des Champs-Efysees 

he asked him what he was doing on stage. Simon, always 
ready with a witty reply, said: "I am coming to fetch some 
chicken tripes for fishing," 84 The audience guffawed. Since 
the audience's reaction was so favorable, Jouvet and Sarment 
decided to incorporate the lines in the script. 85 

Leopold le Bier^Aime was included in Jouvet's repertoire 
during his tour from the 3d to the 22d of August 1928. At 
Divonne, on August 2d, Jean Sarment wrote the following note 
at one o'clock in the morning: 

This is the first day, with a good beginning, in the small auditorium, the 
show took in 3,000 not so good. The company was good, Moor was good, 
Maraval also, and the rest quite up to them, Valentine, Lory and myself 
good audience, but made up of neurasthenics, which is the malady at 
Divonne. They will not escape it. Goodbye, I did not want to open with- 
out sending yon my greetings. 86 

Although Leopold le Bien-Aime was a successful play, the 
director's lot was not enhanced by it. Financial burdens still 
accumulated taxes, free tickets, increasing salaries, and ex- 
pensive the itrical equipment added to the headaches of the 
director. Moreover, a new play by an unknown was all too 
frequently a costly experiment. 87 

Since Copeau had left Paris, the most talented of the 
theatrical producers were Baty at the Studio des Champs- 
Elysees, Dullin at the Atelier Theatre, Pitoeff at the Theatre 
des Mathurins, and Jouvet at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. 
Thanks to their efforts and perseverance, they gave new vi- 
tality to the French stage, thus restoring the younger gener- 
ation's faith in the theatre. Stimulated by their success, and 
hopeful for the future, they decided to group together for 
mutual benefit and protection, and so they formed a cartel 

The word "cartel," borrowed from the field of economics 
and politics, meant for Jouvet, Dullin, Baty, and Pitoeff a 
working agreement and association among four theatrical 
managers who had demonstrated their abilities in the pro- 
duction of plays of outstanding quality. Moreover, it was also 
to be a cartel of good taste and honest intention. 88 It was not 

Trials and Tribulations 119 

a partnership and refrained from any declaration of common 

artistic principles. On July 6, 1927, the four directors met in 
Jouvet's office on the seventh floor of the Comedie des Champs- 
Elysees, and signed the following agreement, which officially 
established their association: 

Considering the goals they are pursuing and assessing the numerous 
points upon which they ought to and can help each other, the under- 
signed:... Gaston Baty, Charles Dullin, Louis Jouvet, Georges Pitoeff, 
form an association based on the professional esteem and reciprocal res- 
pect which they have for one another. They pledge their honor to respect 
it in spirit and letter. 

This association studies all questions of a professional nature and makes 
the decisions which concern it in common. 

Each one of the associates preserves his complete artistic liherty and 
remains sole master of his work. 

The statutes of the association will Be established as the unanimous 
decisions are decided upon, but now and henceforth, the undersigned pro- 
mise to show a united front in all cases where the professional or moral 
concerns of anyone may be in question. 89 

The members of the Cartel consulted and acted together be- 
fore taking a stand on any public matter. It was agreed that 
all would place announcements and advertisements in the 
newspapers and magazines in the least expensive fashion, and 
that they could borrow actors from each other when available. 
The Cartel was extended in emergencies to include temporary 
financial help by the group as a whole to any of the four in 
distress. 90 The Cartel watched with interest the dramatic 
trends in foreign countries; this eventually brought about 
adaptations and productions of plays by Pirandello, Ibsen, 
Jonson, Shakespeare, Gogol, and others. It must be noted, 
however, that Lugne Poe and Antoine had both introduced 
foreign playwrights to the French stage; the Cartel did not 
pioneer in this respect, but rather enriched the movement. 

At one meeting of the Cartel the members decided to take 
a decisive step against latecomers whose noisy entrances into 
the theatres were annoying both to actors and audiences. The 
Cartel decided to make them stay in the lobby until the end 
of the scene. This decision, which seemed but a minor matter, 

120 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

was to have major consequences, and the reverberations of 
what ensued were to be heard all over Paris. The Cartel 
seemed to have failed to consider, before taking this step, the 
fact that similar decisions had been made by several directors 
who later on were forced to cancel them; criticism from many 
quarters called the action presumptuous and dictatorial. 91 

The crucial test for the Cartel came on January 25, 1928 at 
the Atelier Theatre where Zimmer's fantasy The Birds, adapted 
from Aristophanes, was having its first performance. A comedy 
of errors and recriminations began that night when Dullin, 
the director of the Atelier Theatre, anticipating that latecomers 
would be both numerous and noisy, decided to exclude them 
even from the lobby; by his order the front doors of the 
theatre were closed when the first act began. Unfortunately, 
among those forced to remain standing in the cold on the Place 
Dancourt was the eminent French critic Fortunat Strowski. 
When Rene Bruyez, secretary-general of the Atelier Theatre, 
found out about this "af front," he was indignant. Strowski was 
a friend of his and, perhaps what is more important, had com- 
mented very favorably on his recent play I/a Puissance des 
Mots. Thus, Strowski was looked on as a vested interest whose 
good humor had to be preserved at all costs. Paul Ginisty, 
president of the Cercle de la Critique, now took a hand, and 
thundered his righteous indignation at the insult offered 
Strowski; he demanded that Dullin make public apology for 
the offense. Dullin flatly refused. He had already suffered 
sufficient distress on the crucial evening (the police had to 
hold back the crowds who started to throw stones at the 
theatre), and he would not be dragged further into the im- 
broglio. Since Dullin ignored Ginisty's demand for public 
apology, Ginisty felt that he had to take a stronger stand 
against the Cartel and he asked his fellow reporters to boy- 
cott the Atelier's production. 92 As a result, tempers became 
still more heated. Dullin, carried away by anger, was rash 
enough to remark that the critics* function nowadays was 

Trials and Tribulations 121 

obsolete and futile anyway. Then Pitoeff, in a letter to the 
Syndicat de la Presse Parisienne, writing in the name of the 
big four, said that if a boycott were put into effect, the Cartel 
would withdraw its advertising from the newspapers involved. 
This was a counterthreat which stung the critics and threaten- 
ed the pocketbooks of the newspaper proprietors. In turn, 
Ginisty wrote a scathing letter to Comoedia, protesting against 
Dullin's insulting remark and Jouvet's article recounting the 
affair which had appeared in the program notes of the Comedie 
des Champs-Elysees. 93 

Now that the threat of one side had been met with an equal 
threat from the other, passions ebbed and self-interest prevail- 
ed. The turmoil gradually died down. However, so widespread 
was the report of this feud in Paris that the public took sides 
and some intellectuals compared this squabble to the Bataille 
dFHernani which took place in 1830. An amusing ditty, Bal- 
lade sur la Place Dancourt, was written describing the in- 

Similar incidents had occurred in the past. At the Theatre 
des Mathurins, for instance, when Pitoeff produced Maison 
des Coeurs Brises 9 he shut the doors against latecomers. The 
same exclusion was practiced at the Theatre du Gymnase, but 
in neither instance were tempers detonated. Disappointed or 
annoyed, the latecomers sat, smoked, and chatted at the Mar- 
guery next door until they could be admitted into the theatre. 
But unfortunately, the Atelier could not provide such com- 
forts for the tardy. 94 

Despite this incident, Jouvet continued his feverish pace, 
and on March 28, 1928, produced Zimme/s Le Coup du Deux 
Decembre, in which he himself interpreted the police magi- 
strate M. Lebre. Zimmer was gifted with imagination, audacity, 
and a talent for creating strange and convincing character- 
types. He was also possessed of a strange sense of humor which 
led him to create eccentric and fantastic characters. In this 
play Zimmer aimed his satire at the provincial bourgeoisie 

122 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

who so inflexibly adhere to moribund conventions. He had 
visualized his play as a spirited comedy, and not the bitter, 
somber, and melancholy play into which he said Jouvet turned 
it 95 

Looking stiffly dignified and imposing, Jouvet-Lebre walked 
on stage, dressed in a black jacket and trousers whose perpen- 
dicular lines accentuated his tall figure. He acted somewhat 
like a stylized automaton moving in a trance.* 6 Paul Achard 
enjoyed Jouvet's solemn rigidity. 97 But Lucien Dubech criti- 
cized him for his flat speech and unclear articulation. 98 

The sets were important because they so successfully con- 
veyed the tight and narrow atmosphere of a provincial town. 99 
Zimmer was impressed by Jouvet's insight and skill; he 
managed by his "interesting stage sets to add without betraying 
or encumbering." 10 In Act I, in Madame Lebre's dining room, 
tightness and torpidity are expressed in the following manner; 
at first, the stage appears in total obscurity, then the light 
slowly diffuses itself, and a dreary provincial room emerges. 
The room is furnished with a large buffet, Henri Deuxieme 
type, a table in the center, chairs, two paintings which are 
hardly discernable, a green hanging lamp which projects a 
violent circle of light on the table, and two doors which seem 
to be the only bright spots in the room. 101 Act II takes place 
in the attic of the house and is in sharp contrast to the first. 
The sun enters from all directions, from the windows, the 
open doors, from the skylight; the total effect produces bright 
lights, shifting shadows, and half-tones. There are birds sing- 
ing and fluttering outside the windows. The attic, with its 
helter-skelter disorder is characteristic and again revealing 
of the acquisitive habits of such a provincial family. These 
sets told the audience much about the characters. In the attic, 
there was an accumulation of old chairs, books, a zinc bath- 
tub, plaster mannekins, two old flags, a globe, and a scattering 
of artificial flowers. 102 Act ICE, similar to Act I, took place in 
the Lebre dining room. But the windows which had been 

Trials and Tribulations 123 

shut in Act I were opened and two flags and two illuminated 
street lamps were visible in the distance. At intervals, the 
noises accompanying the festivities could be heard together 
with the strains of a merry-go-round and the rattling of wheels 
on rough pavement. 103 

It was a mise en scene designed to give background and 
reveal characters in a selective way, and in this it was success- 
ful. Pierre Brisson remarked that the staging was conceived 
with "a precise and colorful art." 104 Jouvefs selective realism 
was in complete opposition to the absolute realism which had 
its heyday in Antoine's time and which still remained popular 
in many boulevard theatres. Jouvet disliked faked or painted 
scenery, though he had felt it necessary to use it in Knock to 
make more emphatic the caricatural element in the play. He 
liked real wooden doors, real chairs, real moleskin or plush 
seats; sometimes, in order to heighten and brighten his effects, 
he used glittering or shiny materials, oilcloth or even cel- 
lophane, but always in a selective or as Andre Boll called it 
"synthetic" manner. To suggest, not to represent, the small 
detail indicating a large meaning, would, for Jouvet, be more 
effective in revealing diverse and complex human traits than 
total realism, which is merely a series of representations, re- 
plicas of familiar interiors to astound naive minds. Jouvet 
was an artist, determined to present with clarity an atmosphere 
suggestive in tone and convincing in impression. This lent 
a distinctive artistic quality to his stage sets, which were simple, 
unpretentious, and selectively detailed. 

Had not Antoine's criticism been so severe, Le Coup du 
Deux Decembre might have lasted longer. Antoine not only 
disparaged the acting and the cast's poor diction, but attacked 
the production as a whole. 105 Zimmer, Jouvet's loyal friend, 
took up the cudgel and wrote Antoine the following: 

What material detriment your wholesale condemnation may bring about, 
and more, Jo the very theatre which Jouvet manages. As a matter of fact, 
for an audience of today, what is of importance in a play? Casting and 

124 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

casting alone ! The public does not know the author's name, it disregards 
the theme of the play, and does not attach great importance to the text; 
but if a voice carrying authority whispers to it, "Go! there is a play well 
acted! you will he delighted with it.** It quickly hurries there, hut it will 
Etill more quickly refrain from going, if one broadcasts the contrary. 106 

Antoine replied that the play's bright and audacious dialogue 
could not offset the mediocrity of the interpretation, reiter- 
ating his censure of Jouvet "who had the unfortunate idea 
of exaggerating his already bizarre diction with a useless south- 
ern accent." He concluded by saying that the avant-garde 
theatres were now sufficiently healthy financially and other- 
wise to withstand the shock of noncoddling criticism. 107 

Jouvet himself was too busy to enter into these polemics. 
Two or three hundred plays were submitted to him yearly 
and he made it a point to read a play a day, despite his many 
duties and obligations. The mass of work confronting Jouvet 
imposed on him a hard, fast schedule and a disciplined life. 
Once Jouvet had selected his play, he would think about it for 
months, even for years, as in the case of L'Ecole des Femmes. 
Consciously or unconciously he hovered over it. It would 
come and go in his fancy, as if it had a life of its own. Gradually 
the play would reach deep into his very being and the living 
scenes would take shape; when it had achieved a definite form 
he would tackle the script in detail and then when satisfied 
that he had got all he could out of it, he might schedule it 
for production. 108 

Jouvet was now more interested than ever in the use of ac- 
cessories in stage sets. His more refined and cunning use of 
them had certainly marked a change, though perhaps it was 
only a matter of emphasis. He and Copeau had even planned 
to write a book together on the subject, stressing the mystical 
side of stage decorations. As stage-manager at the Vieux- 
Colombier, Jouvet kept lists of stage accessories required for 
the various sets, somewhat similar to the Memoire of Mahelot. 
He not only liked to compare the lists of accessories kept by 
various stage-managers in different countries but also those 

Trials and Tribulations 125 

accessories suggested by the author and those finally decided 
upon by the director. In Dumas' play La Femme de Claude, 
a significant part was played by a double-barreled Winches- 
ter rifle. It was important as a dramatic adjunct, and in fact, 
essential to the play, which could not have been produced 
without it. Jouvet disdained plays which required essential 
adjuncts as being somewhat mechanical and rigid; for this 
reason he respected Moliere and Shakespeare. 

However, times have changed radically in favor of comfort 
and abundance of possessions. Since people are surrounded 
by furniture, gadgets, and accessories in their daily living, 
it is natural for them to expect to see the same on the stage; 
they respond accordingly by relishing details and objects 
close to their daily living. No one was more aware of this 
than Jouvet, but simplicity was always his aim and he used 
his technique of simplicity to dissociate the complex and, 
merely to suggest overabundance as in Le Coup du Deux 
Decembre. However, he did not fail to use many realistic 
details if the play called for them. But it was his principle 
to suggest rather than to imitate. 

It was at this time that Jouvet was to establish a working 
relationship with a writer whose plays were to mean much 
to him in the furtherance of his career as actor, director, and 
interpreter of life. 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 

One would even be grateful to a God for such metamorphosis,, and 
I am avenging myself for the modesty which obliged me to keep 
silent on the subject of Jouvet the director by expressing my 
admiration for Jouvet the actor and by hailing him as one of the 
greatest actors that the French stage has 

Jouvet's meeting with Giraudoux was an event destined to be 
of great moment to both of them. And Jouvet's production of 
Siegfried, the author's first play, was to establish another 
landmark in Jouvefs career. Antoine wrote: 

The coming of lean Girandoux into the theatre is an event which will have 
deep repercussions on the contemporary dramatic movement; I recognize 
that same impression which Frangois de Corel produced, when he surged 
into prominence in 1891, in the evolution of realism. 2 

Zimmer introduced Giraudoux to Jouvet just before the 
production of Bava UAfricain in 1926. Zimmer worked in the 
same government offices as Giraudoux, at 3 Rue Francois ler 
Zimmer at the Haut-Commissariat des Provinces du Rhin and 
Giraudoux at the Bureau des Oeuvres Fran^aises a FEtranger. 
Had Zimmer not invited Jouvet and Giraudoux to lunch with 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 127 

Mm at the Pare Montsouris, the French theatre might have had 
a less brilliant future, without the stimulation and support 
of a rare talent. 3 

In 1922, Giraudoux published a novel called Siegfried et le 
Limousin, which he said he had written in twenty-seven days. 
It was a difficult novel with a precious and recondite vocabu- 
lary and far-fetched allusions to obscure events; the reader 
was not enlightened but confused by the lengthy political and 
philosophical discussions. The novel lacked the drama and 
tension which were to be characteristic of the author's plays. 

One day someone asked Giraudoux to submit an article for 
the Melanges in honor of Charles Andler, the author's former 
German teacher. As his contribution, Giraudoux took an 
episode from the book and transposed it for the stage. This 
was the first step taken toward what eventually was to result in 
the play Siegfried. 

Giraudoux said that he turned his novel into a play for 
various reasons. First, he felt that, politically speaking, the 
time was ripe for it; the strain between France and Germany 
had been increasing, and he foresaw an inevitable conflict 
unless there was a clearing of the air. As he had something 
to say which might have a salutary effect on both countries 
and lessen tension. "One had to express oneself ... to make 
oneself understood." 4 

Second, Giraudoux thought the dramatic content of the 
novel was well suited to the stage. The story was refreshing, 
original, pertinent; it concerned a French soldier who lost 
his memory after receiving a severe head wound in a battle 
during the First World War. He lay on the battlefield un- 
conscious until picked up by some German soldiers, who took 
him for one of their own. While hospitalized, he was given 
the name of Siegfried, and in time, he became an outstanding 
German political figure. When French friends eventually 
heard his story, they studied his case, and were convinced that 
he was Jacques Forestier, their old friend. They got in touch 

128 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

with liiim and after overcoming some difficulties, repatriated 

The third reason for turning to the stage was the pleasure 
Giraudoux derived from working with actors. He was attracted 
to those devoted men and women who were capable of giving 
themselves unstintingly to the creation of a world of fancy 
which might endure only briefly and would soon he forgotten. 
If a play failed, all their efforts would have heen in vain. 
Yet, they never hesitated to accept the challenge, and did not 
bemoan a failure. Such dedication appealed to Giraudoux. 
Great plays, in his opinion, were like the cathedrals of the 
Middle Ages, the product of communal effort, a dream brought 
to life by selfless aspiration. 5 

Giraudoux began working on his play. A month later, on a 
Sunday morning, he arrived at the home of the critic Benjamin 
Cremieux at Rue du Pre-aux-Clercs with a heavy folder con- 
taining Siegfried. Cremieux read it and found it interesting, 
but unplayable. It lacked pace and would have consumed 
three or four evenings. But it had the makings of sound 
drama. 6 

Later, under Jouvet's guidance, Giraudoux whittled it down. 
He eliminated much and altered a great deal, save for the 
second act, in which there were few revisions. Jouvet taught 
Giraudoux how to underscore salient traits of his characters 
and develop the tensions among characters, how to point up 
dialogue, tighten loose ends and omit whatever did not con- 
tribute to the action or the play or the development of a 
character. 7 The result was that all flashy literary material was 
eliminated, and the story line was clear. At Jouvet's prompting, 
the play was rewritten seven times. 8 Giraudoux himself con- 
fessed, "It gave me great pleasure to rewrite Siegfried several 
times. The play was not just like the one now being performed. 
We worked on it until the very last moment." 9 

In the first version of the play, the action took place in 
Munich and there were thirty-six characters. The play was 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 129 

entitled Siegfried von Kleist, and famous, contemporaries, such 
as Marshal von Hindenburg and General Ludendorf, were in 
the cast of characters. In the final version, the scene was Gotha, 
and there were only eighteen characters. The title was short- 
end to Siegfried and living personalities were eliminated. 10 

It can now he seen what an immeasurable debt Giraudoux 
owed to Jouvet. Jonvet taught him the fundamental techniques 
of creating a drama, underscoring the line of action, developing 
and dramatizing the story. He showed him how to round out 
his characters and give them depth and authenticity. 11 Most 
important of all, Jouvet made Giraudoux feel spiritually at 
home in the theatre; and under his guidance Giraudoux be- 
came a notable playwright. But Jouvet, in turn, owed a great 
deal to Giraudoux. In Giraudoux's plays, Jouvet found the 
most suitable outlet for his talents, and with the introduction 
of Giraudoux's completely new and fascinating style of play- 
writing, Jouvet reached Ms peak in the French theatre. 12 

Jouvet had difficulty in finding an actor fitted to play the 
role of Siegfried. The newspapers predicted the choice would 
fall on Alcover or Pierre Blanchar. But Pierre Renoir, son 
of the famous painter, was eventually chosen. As an actor he 
had played almost exclusively at the Boulevard theatres. 13 
One morning, he received a telephone call from the writer 
Pierre Lestringuez, who asked him whether he would accept 
the role of Siegfried in Giraudoux's play. Renoir said that he 
would; but the unexpected offer astonished him since only 
the day before he had had lunch with Giraudoux, and the 
latter had never even broached the subject to him. Lestringuez 
attributed this lapse to j&iraudoux's shyness, or perhaps his 
love of indirection. 14 The choice of Pierre Renoir for the role 
of Siegfried was a brilliant one. Henceforth, Renoir was to 
remain with Jouvet and become an extremely important ad- 
junct of the group. 15 

The rehearsals for Siegfried began on March 9, 1928. The 
actors had to learn a new technique for speaking their lines 

130 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

and had to approach the play with a sense of its subtle and 
poetic atmosphere. No theatricality was permitted in the 
dialogue. Giraudoux's prose was so written and his phrases 
so turned that any undue emphasis wonld break up the con- 
tinuous smooth flow of words or obliterate subtle overtones 
and disrupt the mood. The actors had to accept the discipline 
of learning a distinctly new style. Their voices were so trained 
as to seem akin to musical instruments making exquisite verbal 
music. During the long rehearsals, Jouvet would sit next to 
Giraudoux, tensely watching the proceedings. Characteristi- 
cally he would remark to one of the actors : "You're trying too 
hard. Simply speak your lines, don't act them out.* 916 

Jouvet acted the relatively minor role of Fontgeloy, general 
of the Death's-head Hussars. He played it in the spirit of 
realism. He was a Prussian general to the core dry, authori- 
tarian, arrogant, brusque. He was a martinet, too, with a rigid 
mentality; he had forgotten nothing and learned nothing; he 
blamed France for the damage done by the Revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes. Andre Rouveyre described Jouvet's perfor- 
mance of the role as overwhelming. 17 Francois Ambriere called 
it unforgettable. 18 

Since Jouvet could spend relatively little money on costumes, 
he made only one purchase for his part, a pair of boots. The 
rest of his uniform was put together with odds and ends of 
clothing he found in the theatre's lumber room. 

He had found, I don't know where, a German military statiomnaster's cap, 
from which he removed the white band, and which served very well as a 
kepi An old black raglan from his personal wardrobe, duly altered, was 
transformed without difficulty into a field coat for a Death's-head Hussar 
general, 19 

Jouvet as usual was nervous on the opening night and ex- 
tremely anxious about the success of the play. Before the 
curtains parted, he pessimistically confided to Zimmer and 
his wife: "It won't make a dime! But to have produced this 
play will be the crowning achievement of my life." 20 As the 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 131 

performance progressed, however, the audience was held by 
it. Benjamin Cremieux wrote that 

Siegfried marks a date, a point of departure, a new hope. It marks the 
theatre's escape from naturalism and psychologism into poetry ... It marks 
the rebirth of style in the theatre . . . Since Mnsset, no French author had 
approached the stage with as much ease or grace, 21 

Siegfried had a long run, and the extent of its popularity 
pleasantly surprised both Jouvet and Giraudoux. The author 

I have been surprised by the suddeness of the success and was far from 
expecting it. They tell me I have gifts as a playwright. I should like to 
believe it, but am quite astonished by it. When I listen to my play being 
performed, I find it quite different than it was when I conceived it I do 
not recognize it. It has suddenly been transformed before my eyes on the 

With the production of Siegfried, Jouvet's most strenuous 
season drew to a close, and his friends urged him to take a 
long vacation. He complied; and while in the Massif Central, 
conscientious as usual, he wrote Lucien Aguettand, his tech- 
nical assistant, asking him once again to test and check the 
lighting, sound effects, sets, and other matters. 

I would have liked to ask you to gather some material for Girandoux's 
play concerning sound effects in the movies. I believe I shall give up the 
procedure which you outlined, about which I have made inquiries, even 
though Dullin, Baty, and Gemier have adopted this new procedure. I would 
especially like to be informed about the appliances which produce sound 
effects, in the film archives. Try to get acquainted with one or two sound- 
effect men it seems that there are some remarkable ones. 

I would like to get permission from Nureback to try out an electric 
thunder-making machine. Would you like to inquire about this for me. 

I am also supposed to work with Jaccopozzi on lighting effects. 23 

His vacation ended, he returned to Paris and again plunged 
into work. He planned to produce new plays and revive old 
ones ; he also made preparations for a very brief tour to Geneva 
where he would play Siegfried from September 1st to the 4th. 

In Paris, Jouvet again produced Siegfried while rehearsing 
a new three-act play, Suzanne* by a promising young author, 
Steve Passeur. Passeur liked to create highly emotional cha- 
racters and place them in situations which would upset their 

132 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

normal routine and challenge their deeply ingrained moral 
convictions. The plot of Suzanne followed this pattern. It 
told the story of a sadistic industrialist Dnvernon (Renoir) 
who coveted his secretary Suzanne (Tessier) . Cretai (Jonvet) 
was Suzanne's lover and presented a type which Passenr was 
fond of creating, a hero without heroism. He was a componnd 
of charm, cynicism, and sentimentality. He tried to appear 
unemotional; even when provoked to anger, he affected an air 
of nonchalance. He was amusing at times; but under strong 
pressure, his emotions came violently to the fore. Jonvet stamp- 
ed this contradictory character with intense reality. 24 The 
audience enjoyed Jouvet's performance his revealing silences, 
his pouting responses, his clear and significant gestures, and 
his adroitness (he skillfully caught a piece of cake thrown at 

Although most of the critics enjoyed Suzanne, Maurice 
Martin du G-ard, on the other hand, thought that Passeur 
did not fully understand feminine psychology and that his 
excessive simplification of the feminine mind detracted from 
the authenticity of the characterization. 25 

After the close of this play, Jouvet felt that he needed 
another vacation. From the Haute-Savoie, where he was 
staying, he wrote Sarment a letter, unusual in that it was the 
first written expression of his melancholia and dread of old 
age, which were to plague him to the end of his life. 

Do yon see wliat I am exposed to? "What chapping? Yon really must 
come here one of these days! How Beantiful Christmas mnst he here. 

I think I am feeling better Poincare also I am returning in ten days. 

There has heen a terrlhle fog here for the past two days. We are in the 
clouds and I am taking advantage of it **to reflect a hit.** It is very pain- 
ful hnt I comfort myself with the thought that it is raining on those down 
helow. The sky is cotton-colored and I recall "Lost in the Fog," but this 
does not make me any younger. Profit from this my good friend and 
your beautiful wife when you are my age finished are the ginger- 
bread pigs and the clay pipes of the shooting gallery. And besides, that 
roulette game which we play ends by tiring us, and we want to sit down. 
Come, let me embrace you remember me to Margo and believe that 
I am your friend. 26 

Jtfuvet and Giraudoux 133 

Jouvet was only forty-one when these recurrent spells of 
melancholy took hold of him. He was obsessed with a sense 
of futility and fear. Strangely enough it was at a time when 
he was beginning to make his greatest contributions to the 

It might be that the absence of friends, for whom he tad 
a constant need, created a void, inviting the eruption of the 
deeper fears that had always lurked beneath the surface. 
Jonvet could never completely yield himself to others, but 
had wanted others to express their affection for and confidence 
in him. This may have been due to a compelling desire to 
penetrate the masks of people, to penetrate their secrets the 
more fully to understand them. It was one of his most strongly 
held convictions that an actor could not authentically portray 
a character without having experienced emotions similar to 
the character's either directly or vicariously through his 
friends. But, above and beyond all this, there is no doubt that 
Jouvet deeply loved people and had an emotional need of 
them. The highly sensitive actor had an affectionate and 
understanding nature, and he responded sympathetically to the 
call of both friend and stranger. In a letter to Lucien Aguettand 
in 1923, the warm and loyal side of the man stands revealed. 

I would be happy in the meantime if I could feel that you trusted me more 
than you do feel sufficiently confident to confide in me. Be certain 
that yon will not find a more understanding, a more trustworthy and 
more faithful friend than I. 27 

Later in life, when Jouvet was to sustain some hard blows 
from those he had believed his friends, he was all the more 
hurt because he felt that his trust and affection had been 
misplaced or betrayed. 

A few days after Jouvet returned to Paris, he once again 
set out on another brief tour, arriving at Nice on March 22 
and performing the widely acclaimed Siegfried for six days. 
Upon the troupe's return to Paris, Jouvet undertook the pro- 
duction of a new play, Marcel Achard's Jean de la Lune* 

134 The Comedie des CJwmps-Elysees 

J onvet was not satisfied with the script in its original form. 
As usual, he began tinkering with it. This did not end even 
after the play had gone into performance. Indeed, as has been 
already remarked, he often made changes in the script during 
the course of the run. He found fault with the characterization 
of Jef, the principal role, which he was to play; it had not been 
made sufficiently clear and consistent. Moreover, the play 
was too loosely constructed. 28 

Jef was a dreamer and idealist whose blind faith in the 
woman he loved, Marceline (Tessier) , was such that he over- 
looked, or was unaware of, her infidelities. But in the end lie 
saw his idealistic philosophy of life triumph over her impor- 
tunities. Jean de la Lune had several points of interest, one 
being the author's firm grasp of human psychology. Particu- 
larly sound and striking was the character of Jef as Jouvet 
interpreted him. He became the very image of a tender, 
delicate, and sympathetic soul, seemingly devoid of coarser 
stuff common to other men. But, on the other hand, he 
suffered from the defects of his virtues: he was naive, cre- 
dulous, blindly affectionate. He was a puzzle. In the Middle 
Ages, or in Bunyan's England, Jef might have been assumed 
to be an allegorical figure with few or no complexities of 
character. But today audiences are sophisticated, and so Jef 
seems complex, indeed somewhat contradictoiy and perhaps 
not as innocent of the world as he pretends to be. This com- 
bination of contradictory qualities invited speculation about 
his actual character. Some critics were inclined to believe that 
Ms credulity was affected; others held his naivete suspect since 
no one of flesh and blood could possibly continue to believe 
in his wife's innocence after she herself had confessed her 
infidelities to him. 29 

Fortunat Strowski, however, wrote that Jouvet, performing 
with great psychological insight, had expressed "excellently 
... all the ineffable kindness and ingeniousness" of the cha- 
racter. 30 Strowski pointed out something others had seemingly 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 135 

overlooked the fact that Jouvet's face became overcast when 
for one fleeting moment his glance concentrated on Marceline. 
This was very significant, and indicated to Strowski that Jet 
might really have understood his wife's character, bnt had 
decided to conceal his knowledge of it from her for fear of her 
displeasure. Many questioned this interpretation, for, if this 
were so, why, after she had confessed her infidelities, should 
he strive to maintain this secrecy? The whole affair had come 
into the open. Furthermore, some inquired at what point Jef 
had begun to understand her. To which the critic answered: 
Perhaps from the very beginning, and certainly during the 
scene between Marceline and her lover Richard (Act I, scene v) . 
The critic contended that Jef s tenderness and forebearance, 
permitting him to love Marceline without jealousy, were in- 
trinsic in his character and not indications of weakness or 
hypocrisy. His acceptance of her, with due allowances for her 
faults, endowed him with sufficient moral power finally to 
bring Marceline under his influence; and so, in the end, he 
had, by his understanding and sympathy, either awakened un- 
suspected virtues in her, or in a way reformed her. 

But, whether or not the character of Jef was suspect, there 
is no doubt that Jouvet got the best out of his part. 81 Hey said 
that although Jouvet was psychologically unsuited for a role 
of a naiVe dreamer, "he gets him accepted as is." 32 Pierre 
Brisson wrote that Jouvet's interpretation had much to do with 
this sense of ambiguity. 

With his sharp looks, his measured gestures, and that bearing at once 
precise and anxious which characterizes his talent, Jonvet remains as 
far as possible from the Jean de la Lnne of the happy dreams, poet of 
an imaginary Columbine. 

While Jean de la Lune was still running, Jouvet was in the 
midst of preparations for a new production. Still, he found 
time for some political maneuvering; he took an active part 
in furthering Copeau's candidacy for the directorship of the 
Comedie-Fran^aise. The House of Moliere was once again 

136 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

experiencing one of its characteristic financial and moral crises. 
J ouvet, together with many of France's foremost intellectuals, 
thought that a new director, a director of force and ability, 
should be appointed to restore it to its former prestige. 

On October 19, 1929, a letter addressed to the Minister of 
Education attracted considerable attention among the actors 
and directors of Paris. 34 It described the acuteness of the Co- 
medie-Franc.aise'8 financial plight and suggested the appoint- 
ment of Copean to the directorship. 35 

Although Jouvet favored Copeau's appointment, it did not 
follow that he found Emile Fabre, the present director, 
objectionable. Furthermore, Jouvet qualified his opinion of 
Copean by saying that he might not possess sufficient versatil- 
ity to produce a certain type of play which was part of the 
permanent repertory of the House of Moliere. These plays, 
in effect, were mediocre, but nonetheless had to continue to 
be staged. 

I say that it is a mistake for the Theatre Franais to entrust to a man 
like Copean the talent of a Mr. So-and-so for example, or the revival 
of Pere lebonncard* 1 do not want to indulge in personalities, but I really 
do not see Copean reviving Gringoire, defending Hervien's or the Priest 
Constantin's plays, restaging Le Baiser by Theodore Banville, Le Passant 
or Le Luthier de Cremone* I say, strictly speaking, that it is mistake. 
But I add: it is a necessary mistake. 36 

Jouvet, though qualifying his admiration for Copean, was 
one of his staunchest supporters. However, all of these com- 
bined efforts failed in face of other forces at work opposing 
Copeau. For one, the old guard was frightened at the prospect 
of having a man of advanced ideas at their head; secondly, the 
Societaires of the Comedie-Francaise feared that their careers 
might be jeopardized by a man of independent judgment and 
exacting standards. Together, these two groups pulled strings 
to thwart Copeau's appointment. 37 

During this dispute, Jouvet was again collaborating with 
Giraudoux, this time on the production of Amphitryon 38. 
The men had by now become devoted friends, and they found 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 137 

great stimulation in working together. As Giraudoux said: 

Furthermore, there was never anything more than a contract between 
Jouvet and myself, one which excludes mutual felicitations except at 
failures, and which replaces reciprocal praise by specialized collabora- 
tion, the affection of fellow workers, and the devotion that this theatrical 

artisanship brings on, which has become, as the operetta says, my pas- 
sion and my joy. 38 

Many plays had been written on the story of Amphitryon. 
Among Giraudoux's most illustrious predecessors were Plautus, 
Moliere, and Dryden. Giraudoux's version, however, was high- 
ly original. He raised his heroine Alcmene (Tessier) to a posi- 
tion of first importance, while all the other characters revolved 
about her Mercury (Jouvet), Jupiter (Renoir), Amphitryon 
(Allain-Dhurtal) and Sosie (Bouquet) . 39 According to Jouvet, 

Siegfried is a drama, Amphitryon 38 is a divertissement. In Siegfried 
everyday people become the prey of events, grow, personify their native 
lands, become heroes. In Amphitryon 38 a contrary movement divine 
characters come down to earth and become human. 40 

As usual, Giraudoux rewrote parts of the play in conformity 
with Jouvet's suggestions. These changes may sometimes seem 
minor, but they contribute, in one way or another, to the 
effectiveness of the text. They are interesting to students of 
drama for they demonstrate how a play is brought into final 
shape, how scenes are integrated, how by subtle changes in 
the dialogue characters can be brought into bolder relief, and 
especially how the moment dramatique is built up. Jouvet 
aimed to achieve the right pitch in all the elements of the 
drama to establish authenticity. Giraudoux presented Jouvet 
with the raw material and with the latter's help and advice, 
molded it into an excellent vehicle for the troupe. Giraudoux 
once stated: 

It happens that it is Jouvet's doing, and, like those Japanese cut-outs 
which are nothing but paper, I who thought I was nothing but paper 
sometimes become a chrysanthemum in the Jouvet swimming pool and 
sometimes a gladiolus, and am not forbidden from envisaging my blos- 
soming into a lily or a rose in the near future. 41 

Giraudoux, an extremely modest and self-effacing man, was 

138 The Comedie des Champs~Elysees 

never to forget Ms debt to J ouvet. He gave expression to It 
many times. 

J ouvet struck a happy compromise between Greek architec- 
ture and modem cubism in the creation of the sets. Act I took 
place in Amphitryon's palace, which overlooked the city of 
Thebes. In the center was a terrace, a platformlike structure, 
with two steps in front. On either side of it hung long drapes. 
Colorful lighting effects served to brighten the grayish tones 
of the scene. Act II opened on Alcmene's bedroom, with a 
simple, classical, Grecian-type bed. The drapes on the windows 
emphasized the straight lines of the set. 

Opinions were divided abont the appropriateness of these 
sets, as well as about Jouvet's acting. Etienne Rey stressed 
their rigidity, conventionality, and total lack of orginality. But 
he liked the charming interplay of colored lights on the decor. 
Andre Rouveyre took the opposite point of view, affirming 
that the sets were the only points of interest in the production. 
He called the text "unreadable because of his inclination to 
borrow, because of his compressed multiplicity and assiduously 
labored effects of rhetoric, of which, it seems, the author drew 
up a catalogue.'* 42 Edmond See wrote that the first two acts 
were exquisitely performed, with grace, charm, and tact, but 
that the third act lacked distinction. 43 

In Amphitryon 38, J ouvet played the free and unconstrained 
Mercury. In his next production, Le Prof d? Anglais by Regis 
Gignoux, he played a completely different type, that of an 
English professor, M. Valfine, whose interest in Shakespeare 
was almost obsessive. M. Valfine compared whatever hap- 
pened to him with some similar incident in one of Shake- 
speare's plays. He called Suzanne and Pascal who took English 
lessons from him, Juliet and Romeo. This passion for Shake- 
spearian nomenclature initiated a comedy of errors ; identities 
were confused because the Shakespearian names given friends 
and acquaintances were frequently forgotten, and, in conse- 
quence, a series of amusing contretemps followed. Valfine 

Jouvet and Giraudonx, 139 

himself forgot whether his beautiful wife was Titania or 
Desdemona and whether he himself was Valfine, Othello, or 
lago, or some nameless musician on an enchanted isle. 44 

Gerard d'Houville wrote that all of Paris should go to see 
this actor "a distracted lock of hair, dressed in a haram-scaram 
sort of way (looking like the devil) in an odd-looking suit, his 
nose aquiver and his eyes always elsewhere." 45 Jouvet's per- 
formance drew enthusiastic comments from the critic Henri 
Bidou. 46 When Jouvet appeared on the stage dressed in an old 
jacket, baggy trousers, torn stockings, and crumpled hat, he 
drew guffaws from the audience. He wore little make-up, 
creating the role a sec. Never before had he brought such 
precision and comprehensive grasp to a role, manipulating all 
of its foibles with the greatest skill. 47 

The sets were both imaginative and fresh, as Pierre Brisson 
remarked. 48 The play opened on a view of the Normandy 
seashore (Act I) , but the audience saw neither sand nor ocean, 
merely a garden with rustic chairs and tables. The stage was 
bright with a penetrating glare. 49 Act II, Mme Valfine's hotel 
room, was rather commonplace in effect. But Act III was 
fanciful and charming. Opening on a small terrace of the villa, 
the set contained a large barred window in the rear of the set, 
plants on a sill and a bench directly in front of it. On a bench 
stood Valfine's fishing basket, a straw hat, and an inverted 
flower pot. Leaning against the wall and scattered about, in 
studied disorder, were whips, bottles, baskets, an old screen, 
and garden utensils. 

Jouvet was highly pleased with the success of Le Prof 
< Anglais. And with a relatively light heart, in the spring of 
the same year, he went on vacation to a place of high altitudes, 
glaciers, and invigorating air. But Jouvet never could relax 
completely; he spent much time making sketches of the sets 
intended for his next production, Jules Remains* Donogoo- 
Tonka. His talent as an artist (it must not be forgotten that he 
studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts) stood him in good stead 

140 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

in sketching Ms sets and contributed to Ms self-sufficiency as 
a director. 50 

On his return to Paris in the fall, he was offered the direc- 
torship of the Theatre Pigalle. Having already undertaken 
too many commitments, he was obliged to refuse, but he agreed 
to direct several plays of his own choice for this theatre, Ro- 
mains' Donogoo-Tonka, Giraudoux's Judith, and S avoir's La 
Patissiere du Village. 

Just as he was about to start rehearsals for Donogoo-Tonka, 
Jouvet received word that his mother was dying. On August 
18, he rushed to her bedside in Brittany and almost three 
weeks later, on September 6, she passed away. The death of 
Ms mother haunted him and deepened his fear of death, an 
obsession which was to take a stronger hold on him as time 
went on. 51 

Once in Paris, however, Ms activities reassumed their charac- 
teristic pace. The Theatre Pigalle, where he was to produce 
Donogoo-Tonka, had been built by the Baron de Rothschild. 
It was furnished with four elevators, an immense switchboard, 
and a vast amount of complicated theatrical machinery. The 
theatre had been planned by engineers who had proceeded 
without consulting artists or specialized arcMtects, and it was 
therefore in many ways theatrically impractical. No director, 
thus far, had succeeded in making it profitable. 52 But Jouvet 
accepted the challenge. 

Donogoo-Tonka had twenty-four changes of scene and it 
played for four hours. The cast was very large, consisting of 
more than one hundred characters, and the scenes hopped 
from place to place Paris, Brazil, and Donogoo, the town 
which Professor Le Trouhadec and Ms friends had founded. 
Many doubted that Jouvet could cope with such an ambitious 
enterprise. Jouvet, Romains, Ibert (the composer of the play's 
ingenious music), and Colin, who designed the sets, spent 
more than five months preparing the new production. 53 

The production was interesting for some of the novelties 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 141 

it introduced. For one, the curtains remained parted during 
the first part of the play. During that interval, scenes were 
shifted unmasking the steel machinery, while workmen were 
seen hurrying around and the stage itself move backwards. 54 
Another unusual device was employed to give the illusion of 
people all over the world reading about and discussing the 
newly founded city of Donogoo; transparent screens were 
placed one behind the other, and behind them stood a blue 
cyclorama. The screens moved sidewise and each scene faded 
into the next. The cities were suggested by paintings on the 
screens a harbor for Marseille, an automat for San Francisco, 
and a steep gable for Amsterdam. 55 

D ono goo-Tonka satirized modern business practices just as 
Knock had derided evil practices in medicine. Despite its 
complexities, the play was successful. 56 Robert de Beauplan 
wrote that the various elements in the production "were 
performed with perfect mastery" and that Jouvet had given a 
fine sense of reality and continuity to the ensemble. 57 

The play marked the end of another successful year in Paris, 
and Jouvet informed reporters that this company would tour 
Europe for two months. 58 Italy, France, Belgium, and Switzer- 
land were included in the itinerary, with Knock, Amphitryon 
38, Le Prof <? Anglais, Le Medecin Malgre Lui, and Le Car- 
rosse du Saint-Sacrement as the repertory. 59 

The tour was a triumph. Parisian newspapers reprinted the 
enthusiastic comments of drama critics in every city visited. 
The manager of the Celestins Theatre in Lyon said that Jouvet 
and his troupe had given his theatre "the most successful week 
of the year." 59 Marseille, so dreaded by touring theatrical 
companies because of the severity of the critics and the un- 
raliness of its audiences, gave Giraudoux's play an unexpect- 
edly warm reception, and two extra performances of Amphi- 
tryon 38 were required at Nice during the Carnival season. 
In Rome, critics were unanimous in their praise, though some 
observed that Jouvet's voice was sometimes unpleasant and 

142 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

that his face was not sufficiently mobile for his efforts; but 
many added that he overcame these defects by the sheer force 
of his authority, his penetrating intelligence, and the prodi- 
gious knowledge of his art. 60 In Italy, Amphitryon 38 was the 
most successful play, but it elicited some odd comments by 
the critics. A few thought it an antireligious tract; others that 
it was the product of post-war fatigue; still others considered 
it a parody on war. 61 In Geneva, the troupe was once more 
acclaimed, and the acting and stage sets were singled out for 
special commendation. 62 In Belgium, similar enthusiasm was 
aroused. One critic in Brussels remarked that he attributed 
Jouvet's success to the mystic bond among the members of 
the cast, author, director, and audience. 63 

Jouvet was heartened by the warmth of his reception every- 
where. He found delightful the intimate and leisurely attitude 
of Italian audiences toward their theatre. 64 The play rarely 
started until the theatre had been filled; yet, without com- 
plaining the people in the audience whUed away the time 
chatting with one another. The theatre for the Italians, wrote 
Jouvet, was an "element of society which has disappeared from 
our Parisian theatres." 65 He praised the wise and scholarly 
manner with which the Italian critics reviewed the plays. 66 

On his return to Paris, Jouvet at once launched into the pro- 
duction of Drieu La Rochelle's IfEau Fraiche at the Comedie 
des Champs-Elyseea. 61 The play turned out to be banal and 
hardly worth the effort. Yet, in playing Thomas, the cynical 
friend of the family, Jouvet used all his skill in an attempt to 
bring the play to life. Maurice Martin du Card considered his 
efforts valiant, but not sufficient to overcome the play's in- 
herent weaknesses. 68 

Urt Taciturne, a psychological drama by Roger Martin du 
Gard 9 was Jouvet's next production. This probing drama tells 
the story of a man who, unknowingly, suffers from a sexual 
inversion. It is interesting to compare the handling of a sub- 
ject held more or less taboo by nineteenth-century authors 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 143 

with its handling by authors of the twentieth centnry. Balzac, 
for example, described Vautrin's inclinations toward Rastignac 
and Lucien de Rubempre in a most subtle and veiled manner. 
Today the problem of the homosexual is approached clinically 
by novelists and is discussed freely at dinner tables. Roger 
Martin du Gard, author of the play, was tolerant of and almost 
indulgent toward the homosexual. 69 

In many seventeenth-century plays, and even more so in 
many of the nineteenth-century plays, there is a raisonneur 
who takes an objective attitude toward the involvements of 
the characters, and represents common sense. Armand was the 
raisonneur in Un Taciturne. But Armand was modern. He 
had read Freud, and he constantly analyzed his own motives 
as well as the motives of others ; moreover, he rarely hesitated 
to speak his mind, even of what he said was unpalatable or 
painful. This made of him, he thought, a strong man who 
stood above the weaknesses of his society; in short, he con- 
sidered himself intellectually superior and perspicacious. 70 

Jouvet, as Armand, used little make-up ; his face was wonder- 
fully expressive, and his intonations richly varied. His glances 
hardened in a cruelly penetrating expression whenever he set 
out, with a streak of sadism, to make his victims wince with 
unwelcome truths about themselves. 71 When Jouvet- Armand 
watched his friend Thierry (who had just realized he was a 
homosexual), he remained unmoved, taking an aloof clinical 
attitude toward perversion. 

The critics were almost unanimous in their praise of Jouvet's 
acting. Maurice Martin du Gard wrote that Jouvet had "played 
to perfection.' 972 Maurice Rostand called his portrayal in- 
imitable. 73 

According to Andre Gide, however, Roger Martin du Gard 
felt that the basic meaning of the play was not understood by 
either Renoir or Jouvet. As Gide noted in his Journal, 

Roger complains of not being able to find a young actor who is suf- 
ficiently attractive physically. X, who offers himself for the role, is 

144 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

Intelligent and charming ; but, says Roger : "No one In the audience will 
ever have a desire to kiss him on the mouth." The secret motive ol the 
play, moreover, seems completely incomprehensible to Jonvet and to 
Renoir. Not the slightest tremor, not the slightest warmth. II sen- 
suality does not enter in, the pistol shot at the end has no justification. 74 

Other critics disagreed. Pierre Lievre considered the perfor- 
mance so fine that he thought Roger Martin du Gard had writ- 
ten the play with J olivet's troupe in mind. 75 Etienne Key re- 
marked that J olivet's direction was "the model of what the- 
atrical directing should be." 76 

Such favorable criticisms bolstered Jouvet's self-confidence, 
and though he was still inclined to a state of nerves before 
first nights, he was now convinced that both audiences and 
critics were behind him in his efforts and had faith in his 
judgment. 77 Instead of becoming complacent over his success, 
however, and exploiting it, Jouvet again showed his quality 
and the breadth of his sympathy. He turned away from his 
own success at this point to tackle problems of the theatre 
which concerned every worker in it. He was still one of the 
workers, no matter how renowned. As such, he spoke out. 

To Jouvet's mind, the theatre still suffered from very de- 
finite evils produced by three specific causes poor business 
management, competition from motion pictures, and a lack of 
esprit de corps. Lacking a sense of unity, the playwrights, 
directors, actors, and technicians all pursued their individual 
ends irrespective of common interests. Here was the root of 
the evil. 

Legislation had been passed to relieve this condition, but it 
was piecemeal and not integrated the football of politics. 
In the end the cure was worse than the disease. Moreover, a 
formidable number of individual organizations had arisen to 
deal with this situation. 78 Each agency pursued its own 
interests actox's, stage hands 9 , or playwrights* with com- 
plete disregard for the intentions of other departments of the 
theatre. These organizations even worked against each other 
or feuded with one another. Measures adopted by one group 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 145 

might turn out to be harmful to the rest. Jouvet commented 
that although this ruinous decentralization prevailed not only 
in the theatre, hut also in all fields of endeavor, the theatre 
suffered most, for it had become "a mushrooming of trade 
associations. 9 ' 79 At this point, he asked a highly pertinent 
question: Why, for practical purposes, did not these organ- 
izations unite and serve a common purpose? 

Jouvet himself could not tell how such unity might be 
achieved, what cohesive force could bring these diverse and 
sometimes warring elements together. He did not offer a 
panacea which would banish all the evils that beset the theatre, 
since he was not a specialist in social relations, nor did he 
possess "the wisdom to find a solution for the present-day 
insolvency." 80 He did, however, suggest partial state aid, as 
he had done previously. 

A second and weightier obstacle to the financial stability of 
the contemporary French theatre was the competition of the 
movie industry. The large and prosperous movie companies 
easily lured actors and actresses from the legitimate stage with 
the temptation of higher pay. The movie companies also had 
sufficient financial resources to lure away the experienced 
scenic designers, mechanics, and electricians, and by so doing, 
had impoverished the stage. They transplanted techniques of 
the stage to the movie sets, and directed the actors like auto- 
mata, with the result that the standards of acting were lowered, 
and lazy and indifferent habits encouraged. The cinema had 
taken everything from the theatre except its fundamental dis- 
ciplines and the traditional great art of the actors. Jouvet 
concluded by saying that if a fair and equitable collaboration 
could be established between the theatre and the movies, a 
mutually profitable and advantageous relationship would come 
about. But to achieve this end would require an open mind 
and a generous spirit on the part of all concerned. 81 

During the winter of 1931 Jouvet spent most of his time 
between the Comedie des Champs-Elysees and the Theatre 

146 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

Pigalle. For an actor, he was a man of astonishingly regular 
habits. He would arrive at the Theatre Pigalle at eight in the 
morning to attend to business matters. At eleven, he was at his 
own theatre again devoting himself to business. He lunched 
late, and afterwards supervised rehearsals, one day at his own 
theatre, the next at the Theatre Pigalle. Between six and eight 
in the evening be would direct rehearsals at the Comedie des 
Champs-EIysees. After that, he would dine and perform in 
Knock. At the end of the performance he would spend 
several hours with his cast discussing Knock or Judith, which 
be was directing at the Theatre Pigalle. Judith was scheduled 
to open on November 5, 193I. 82 

Before writing Judith, Giraudoux had preferred not to re- 
read the Biblical story, trusting Ms childhood impressions to 
create the appropriate atmosphere. He felt that this permitted 
him a greater sense of freedom in the creative process. Be- 
sides, the play was not intended as a historical document; it 
was neither ancient nor modem, but belonged to all time. 
For this reason accurate historical details were not necessary. 
Only the costumes would place it historically. 83 

The most successful set in this ambitious play was created 
for Act III by Jouvet and Moulaert. It consisted of a gallery 
which represented the alcove in front of Holof ernes' tent. The 
sides of the tent were covered with lateral strips, which in 
effect created the semblance of an avenue. The bright blue 
sky, the towers, the high walls, and the red earth added more 
colorful touches to the sets. 84 But many critics found fault 
with the acting, with the mise en scene, with the lighting, and 
felt that the Theatre Pigalle, because of its huge size, was not 
suited to the play. Once again, Jouvet was faced with a dismal 

By now he was used to occasional failures and in a sense 
learned to take them in stride. He never struck back at the 
critics for their harshness, but sought to discover his own 
mistakes and profit from them. Had the script or his produc- 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 147 

tion of it been inadequate? Had the sets perhaps been un- 
suitable? Often he did not have a minute to pursue the pre- 
liminary designs of a set. In such a case he would ask his 
assistants to complete them for him. Once the blueprints were 
at hand, Jouvet immediately set out to improve them. He 
would say: 

Well now, let me show yon. The room is like this, with a bay window. 
Yon can see a little sky, otherwise a window is certainly useless. A hay 
window. Do you understand. And no bed, for heaven sakes! "We are 
not at the Folies-Bergeres. Yon say that a hed is necessary in the play. 85 

If a bed were called for in the play and Jouvet objected to 
this prop, he would urge the author by telephone to make the 
change. Often several scenes had to be altered to permit the 
elimination of some of the props. Afterwards, Jouvet might 
decide to restore them, and failing to inform the playwright 
of his decision, would burden him with a night spent in futile 
rewriting. 86 

During the next year and a half, Jouvet produced four plays 
of which only one was to be successful. The first of these was 
produced at the Theatre Pigalle and was a three-act play by 
Jules Remains, Le Roi Masque. The second, Marcel Achard's 
Domino, produced at his own theatre, was highly successful 
Alfred Savoir's La Pdtissiere du Village produced at the 
Theatre Pigalle and Alfred Savoir's La Margrave, produced 
at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees were not favorably re- 
ceived. Sometimes by a turn of fate it chanced that Jouvet 
missed producing a worthwhile successful script. For instance, 
Marcel Pagnol brought him his new play Topaze; then Pagnol, 
expecting a rejection by Jouvet, sent a copy of it to the 
Theatre des Varietes, which promptly accepted it. The em- 
barrassed author now had to withdraw the script from Jouvet, 
and he blunderingly explained to him that the play would 
never have suited his theatre anyway. Jouvet saw through his 
little stratagem but with a straight face returned the script. 87 

In a more subdued and tranquil mood, Jouvet approached 

148 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

his new production, Intermezzo, a three-act play by Giraudoux. 

The scheme of the play permitted the performer complete free- 
dom of action. He might wait down to the andience or appear 
unexpectedly anywhere in the theatre, since he was not limited 
to the stage itself. As Pierre lievre remarked: 

I find something miraculous in the ability of this intellectual workman 
to bring to light the as yet undefined charms of a text, to make them 
bloom by keeping them gently within the confines of dream and hal- 
lucination, as the situation requires. 88 

Producing Giraudoux's plays awakened latent powers of in- 
sight and creativeness in Jouvet. The decor always presented 
interesting problems. In Intermezzo the sets were severely 
simplified. The first scene represented a field with a single 
tree in the background, bordered by bushes and ferns. In 
Act II there were a small stone bench, a tree, bushes, ferns, and 
grass. The atmosphere was serene. It was twilight. Andre 
Boll called the first act original and ingenious, but found fault 
with the second which, in his opinion, lacked atmosphere. The 
critic observed that since the play was of an imaginative and 
fairy-like nature, the stage should have looked like a fairy 
forest peopled with nymphs and satyrs, with birds and super- 
natural creatures. 89 Act III was the most charming set of all. 
It opened on Isabelle's room, in the rear of which was a 
balcony with two windows overlooking the small town. During 
this act the community's philharmonic orchestra could be 
heard rehearsing. The intricate lighting with rainbow colors, 
pastel nuances, and iridescences created both broad and subtle 
effects symbolising the tender aaad naive characters of the 
protagonists. When the Spectre (Renoir), the ghost whom 
the young Isabelle had conjured up, appeared, Jouvet pro- 
jected strong lights on either side of him, partially framing 
him, and thus suggesting his mysterious and ethereal character. 
At the conclusion of the play, Jouvet gave the order for "full 
lights." The curtains closed on a dazzingly bright stage. 90 

The musical accompaniment for Intermezzo was written by 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 149 

Francis Poulenc. His counterpoint underscored episodes in the 
play and contributed to its dreamy atmosphere. 91 Every time 
the fooEsh inspector appeared, Poulenc's accompaniment sug- 
gested an ass's bray. In the play's poetic and tender moments, 
the music fell into a romantic and nostalgic mood. Giraudoux 
said that Poulenc's music had definitely "created and accom- 
panied the atmosphere." ^ 

Jouvet, completely absorbed during this period in his pro- 
ductions, rarely gave thought to what was happening outside 
his domain. But sometimes he was shocked out of his conse- 
crated routine by incidents which affected him deeply. Such 
an incident occured at this time. The Nouvelles Litteraires 
of April 1, 1933, printed an interview with Lugne-Poe. After 
giving great praise to the directors of the past (his own con- 
temporaries) , Lugne-Poe condemned the directors of the pre- 
sent. He asserted that whereas the directors of his time were 
entirely devoted to their art, without ulterior financial con- 
siderations, the modern directors were mercenary. He listed 
the names of several directors, including that of Jouvet, who 
were solely concerned with financial gain. These men, Lugne- 
Poe asserted, used the theatre as an instrument of speculation. 93 

Jouvet was outraged* After all the sacrifices he had made 
to further the development of the contemporary theatre, he 
was being told that his productions were nothing but "specu- 
lations in the theatrical business." On April 4 he answered 
this accusation in a letter to the Nouvelles Litteraires. Jouvet 
flatly stated that Lugne-Poe's comparison of today's theatre 
with that of his time was prejudiced and that he could not 
permit Lugne-Poe's absurd generalizations to pass un- 

There is everywhere an equipoise of evil, and it is only the knowledge 
of this fact that can free half of our profession from the scorn of shame 
which it has for certain ones among us. 94 

Nor was it true that all of the directors in Lugne-Poe's time 
were as devoted to their art as he claimed, for: 

150 The Comedie des Champs-Elysees 

Among the directors of that period, there was a rogue or a vile slanderer 
a usurer of talent, a speculator of genius, a filibuster or slave-trader 
behind the scenes. 

Furthermore, Jouvet stated that Lugne-Poe must have been in 
a sentimental and nostalgic mood when he wrote this article, 
conveniently forgetting the ugly and unpleasant side of the 
theatre in his time. Materialism then was as prevalent as it is 
now. Judging from Lugne-Poe's statement, Jouvet continued, 
it would not seem that the high taxes and cinematic compe- 
tition continued to eat away at his profits. Since 1930, that is, 
for the past two years, his receipts had decreased 58 percent. 
It had been a period of depression, to be sure, which hit in- 
dustry as well as the arts; but industry had greater resources 
to fall back on and therefore greater powers of recovery. 
Sometimes the theatre had to live from hand to mouth, so 
vulnerable was it to any economic fluctuation. 06 During the 
depression, many of Jou vet's fellow actors and actresses were 
jobless. On the other hand, the Conservatoire and the sub- 
sidized theatres could continue producing innocuous and inane 
plays unaffected by economic pressures. 97 During the season 
of 1934, of the forty theatres in Paris, only eight had not run 
at a loss. To add to the director's plight, authors now received 
12 percent of the gross receipts earned, and no longer a per- 
centage of the net receipts. Therefore, successful authors could 
become very wealthy, while the theatre languished. 

The depression hit Jouvet so hard that he could keep his 
theatre open only eight months out of the year instead of the 
usual ten. He was confronted with the prospect of giving up 
the Comedie des Champs-Elysees because it was too expensive 
to run. 

It Is impossible! It is impossible! And I can never think, without be- 
coming indignant, that the vital element of the theatre, the entire troupe, 
costs us only one fifth of the operating expenses. What overwhelms 
us is the dead part; what exhausts us is the dead weight. 98 

Jouvet's last productions at the Comedie des Champs-Ely- 
sees were a revival of M, Le Trouhadec Saw par la Debcutche, 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 151 

a fantasy by Marcel Achard, Petrus, and a four-act play by 
Jean Cocteau, La Machine Infemale. 

In Petrus, Jouvet once again played the leading role. He 
was Petals, the ambulant photographer, who, after having 
been mistakenly shot at by a chorus girl, Migo (Therese Dorny) , 
fell in love with her. Petrus* abrupt entrance, after having 
been wounded, produced an irresistibly comic effect. He 
bounded on the stage, venting his wrath in a high-pitched voice. 
In a mood of hysterical self-pity, he exhibited his wounded 
arm, wrapped in a scarf, to those about him and gave vent to 
another burst of invective. Then, dragging one leg after the 
other, he walked around the stage, trembling with emotion. 99 
Achard, the author, however, felt that Jouvet did not have it 
in him to create the imbecile type which he had intended. He 
never really convinced the audience of Petrus 9 credulity, and 
for this reason the play seemed to lack validity. This might 
account for the short run. Achard also thought that Therese 
Dorny lacked both poetry and conviction as Migo, and so the 
audience could hardly be interested in her. 100 

Cocteau's La Machine Infernale was Jouvet's final produc- 
tion at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. The drama pre- 
sented a psychologically complicated Oedipus seen from a 
Freudian point of view. Cocteau said that in this play the 
"machine inf ernale" was an arm of predestination and that the 
fates had patiently and relentlessly plotted the course of 
Oedipus' doom from the very day of his birth. The gods 
tricked him, too, into believing that all his misfortunes were 
in reality blessings in disguise; they thereby lured him from 
one misadventure to the next. 

This brilliant drama was an outstanding production because 
of the efforts of three people Jean Cocteau, Louis Jouvet, and 
Christian Berard. Cocteau suinmed up the situation this way : 

Without the inventive genius of Christian Berard, the courage of Jouvet, 
and the cast, it would have been impossible for me to put into produc- 
tion four acts which are four distinct plays. I nope that the public will 

152 The Comedie dm Champs-Elysees 

forgive ms the inevitable weaknesses of an undertaking which consists of 
nothing less than fighting with ghosts. 101 

Christian Berard designed the sets. "What characterized all 
of his settings as well as Ms paintings was a most unusual com- 
bination of elegance with a powerful dramatic sense. Berard 
was an unusual man with a fine mind and a highly sensitive 
artistic conscience, winch made Mm seek perfection in what- 
ever he undertook, no matter how much time it required. 102 
Cocteau introduced him to Jouvet in 1933. From then on, 
Berard frequently collaborated with Jouvet 103 Jouvet admired 
hi* excellent taste and judgment in artistic and theatrical mat- 
ters. He wrote of him: 

When I look at him from the orchestra, with his mossy and muddy beard, 
like the god of the Rhone, meandering toward the stage, following the 
lights, which he passes, he resembles Nero, Catullus, Hornet-Sully, a 
head of Phidias, of a tramp. It is the god Proteus himself, the real 

sea-god Proteus. 104 

For La Machine Infemale, Cocteau, Berard, and Jouvet be- 
lieved that simplicity would have to be the keynote of the 
sets. They would avoid the pitfalls of both detailed realism 

and abstractionism. There was one interesting innovation in 
the sets: a small stage, approximately 13 ft. by 13 ft, stood in 
the center of the forestage, enclosed by a pale blue hanging, 
and illuminated by a single mercury lamp. 

Berard dKd away with the usual friezes and classic props 
characteristic of the sets of such plays, and used an azure blue 
background which gave the stage a refreshing sense of spaci- 
ousness and perspective. The columns, rocks, and edifices in 
the foreground were three dimensional, not of the trompe Foeil 
type. The dominant colors were white, gray, brown, and tan. 

In Act H, Oedipus is on the road leading to Thebes. Con- 
fronting him, there is a wall, a ruin, a rock, and the jackal- 
headedi god Anubis. In Act HI, on Oedipus* wedding night, 
the cradle in which Oedipus had slept as an infant stands next 
to the marriage bed. The room is draped in red doth which, 

Jouvet and Giraudoux 153 

under the lights shining on it with varying intensities, changes 
from vemdUion to reddish brown. 105 

The costumes were brilliant, with flashing polychromatic 
effects. The intensity of color in the costuming was propor- 
tionate to the importance of the historical figure. Berard*s 
use of color tonality gave the eye the same sort of pleasure 
that a piece of fine music skilfully played gives the ear. 
Pierre Brisson wrote that "all the images create striking 
pictures, 106 

J onvet played the shepherd of Laius, a relatively minor 
role. His contribution lay in the directing. Although La 
Machine Infernale was aesthetically one of the most satisfying 
plays that had been produced for many years, it failed to take 
hold, and ran for only sixty-four nights, Pierre Lievre observed 
that few people were sufficiently sensitive to appreciate the 
production. However, the play possessed "all possible lures 
which can act upon curious and sensitive minds.* 9 

During the run of the play, Jouvet had definitely decided to 
give up the Comedie des Champs-Elysees, and began looking 
for another theatre, less expensive and more suitable for his 
needs. Many of his friends urged him to remain at the Comedie 
des Champs-Elysees, convinced that the financial situation 
would improve. Jouvet replied, "An improvement ... it is not 
even a question of that.'* 107 Even if all of the 800 seats at the 
Comedie des Champs-Elysees were occupied during every 
performance (and this did not often happen) , the gross profit 
would still be meagre. One third of the profit (or 5,000 francs) 
would go into taxes; the rental would absorb 2,000 francs, and 
the remaining 8,000 francs would go toward the salaries of 
actors, mechanics, and stage hands. Thus "from the point of 
view of the management, the 'theatrical business' does not re- 
semble any other. nl08 


The Athenee Theatre 

The Great Period 

To stage a play, in short, is to assist its author* to give him m total, 
a blind devotion, which will make his work beloved without 
reservations, 1 

After the curtain fell on the last performance of Cocteau's 
La Machine Infernale, Jouvet terminated his relations with the 
Comedie des Champs-Elysees and assumed his new functions 
as Director of the Athenee Theatre. 2 

The Comedie des Champs-Elysees had heen, for various 
reasons, a difficult theatre to run. The theatre was situated 
on the fourth floor of the building, to which the sets for new 
plays had to be moved, with great effort and expense, from 
the ground floor. The cost of both heating and lighting such 
a large building was heavy. Morover, the Comedie des Champs- 
Elysees had been conceived with the idea of attracting an in- 
tellectually elite clientele, instead of the masses, and its limited 
audiences undoubtedly were a basic cause of its financial dif- 
ficulties. The Athenee Theatre at .24 Rue Caumartin, on the 
contrary, was conceived from a practical point of view. It 

158 The Athene* Theatre 

stood near the boulevards. The stage was on the ground floor. 
The theatre was compact. 

In this new position, Jouvet had no intention of changing 
Ms repertoire or his cast. As he wrote, he would continue to 
strive to achieve the highest artistic standards. 

I intend to make the authors loved whom I have undertaken to up- 
hold until now, and those I shall discover in the future. My cast, my 
collaborators, and myself shall emigrate, but we shall take with us, intact, 
our hopes, nr enthusiasms, and the desire to continue the mission lor 
which we have fought for such a long time. s 

During the months of August and September of 1934, Jouvet 
was busy planning the physical alterations of the Athenee. 
Under Ms guidance, the stage was rebuilt, the old electrical 
fixtures rewired, and the electrical power increased to permit 
him to continue to use full lights* A curtain of red velvet with 
gold tassels and fringes was designed by Deshayes. Domergue 
painted the forestage curtain with an allegoric springtime 
theme. The seats were reinforced and given the sheen of new- 
ness. In the repainted corridors, Paul Proute hung a per- 
manent exhibition of engravings. 4 Finally the Athenee Theatre 
was brought completely up to date with a loudspeaker inter- 
communication system. 5 

Jonvet opened the new season with a revival of Giraudoux's 
Ampitryon 38. He had rehearsed his cast thoroughly as usual, 
from August 28 to September 15 at the Comedie des Chainps- 
Elysees, and from September 15 to the opening on October 8 
at the Athenee. The critics were unanimous in their praise 
of the production, a good omen for Jonvet's future at this 
theatre. 6 

Tessa, an adaptation by Girandoux of The Constant Nymph, 
was his next production. Jonvet always looked forward with 
excitement to the production of a new play by Giraudoux. In 
1934 Jouvet chanced to read Margaret Kennedy's 7 popular 
novel and was so impressed by it that he suggested that 
Giraudoux adapt it for the French stage. Giraudoux, who had 
just refused Bamowski's request to adapt a Shakespearean 

Joovet in Moliere's Dom Juan I with the statue of The Commander) 

Photo Lipnitzki 

The Great Period 159 

play, considering Shakespeare inviolable, welcomed Jouvet's 
suggestion. But, instead of an adaptation, Giradonx created 
an original work in which he expressed his most sensitive and 
philosophical ideas. 

Tessa tells the story of a girl and her family, the Sangers, 
and her ultimate realization that, for one not physically 
strong, love can be a burden too heavy and joyful to endure. 
The Sangers have five girls and a boy, and devote their lives 
to music while living a free life in the Tyrol There is also 
Lewis Dodd, whom the Sanger children adere. Tessa (Made- 
leine Ozeray) , a loveable creature who feels accountable only 
to herself, is a delicate and ethereal type of person. After her 
father's death, Tessa joins Lewis Dodd and his newly married 
wife, Florence, in England. It is not long before Lewis, grown 
weary of his wife's constraint and narrow views, finds Tessa 
a source of delight and understanding and flees with her to 
Belgium. But Tessa, always in delicate health, finds her love 
for Lewis too burdensome for her heart to support and soon 
dies in the Belgian pension in which she and Lewis had sought 

Jouvet created a remarkable Lewis Dodd in gray pullover 
and trousers. 8 He brought out the Bohemian side of one who, 
at the age of sixteen, had fled his morally strict and well-to-do 
family to take up the life of a wanderer. In his love affair 
with Tessa he revealed a highly sensitive nature, but was 
often unpredictable in his emotions and behavior. 

Tessa was a tremendous success and according to Maurice 
Martin du Gard this was due to the fact that Jouvet was a 
"fully matured genius.** 9 

On October 12, 1934, the directors of the Conservatoire met 
to decide on the successors for several retiring professors. 
Jouvet's name was mentioned. When his friends called to 
congratulate him on this new honor, he suggested that they 
postpone their felicitations until the election was made official. 
He said: 

160' The Athenee Theatre 

I will, 01 course, be happy and very proud to succeed Leitner on Rue de 
Madrid. It is more than a pleasure and more than an honor for a meUeur 
en scene to he tendered the mission of awakening young talents and to 
awaken them while there is still time. To teach the art of the actor, is, 
indeed, to my way of thinking, not only to teach the more or less gifted 
young people, the technique of a profession, infinitely more difficult than 
one is pleased to imagine, but especially to discern the aptitudes of these 
young men... and that, at once. One sees, alas, too frequently, artists, 
great artiste, finding themselves at fifty, seeing clearly within themselves, 
discovering their true usefulness. 10 

Joirvet was officially elected a professor on October 12, 
1934, a signal honor for him, and also quite an ironical turn 
of fate, since he had been refused admission as a student at 
the Conservatoire. 11 

Jouvet believed that the role of the teacher was to help re- 
lease the authentic personality of young actors. They had 
first, of course, to learn how to breathe, to walk, to talk proper- 
ly, and to dance, but paramount was the necessity of learning 
to know themselves, to discover their true aptitudes by ex- 
perience and trial and error. In short, they had to discover 
their genuine talents and express them in terms of the theatre. 
The difference between true and false acting talent is similar 
to the difference Between poetry and rhetoric; rhetoric, as 
Yeats said, comes from the will, poetry from the heart Above 
all, said Jonvet,, it is important not to Callow his sold of the 
comedien to be misled.*' 12 

J oiivet, as professor at the Conservatoire, was to concern 
himself with the development of individual personalities. 13 
He wrote that nothing can be as capricious as an individual's 
development and as very few studies had been made at the 
time of an individual's growth, he was in a sense a pioneer in 
Ms efforts to find out at what age a young actor reaches his 
peak. Citing the of literary men in this respect,. Jonvet 
remarked that had Balzac been judged by his early efforts, 
lie would have been advised to 'take up wigmakiiig. 14 

Every actor, Jouvet told Ms classes, acquires an individual 
conception of the character he is about to interpret. But 

The Great Period 161 

Jouvet had no confidence in those actors who, after a few 
rehearsals, thought they had mastered their roles. Such actors 
were anxious, all too anxious, to solidify their conceptions, 
with a result that could only be superficial since they had 
not permitted themselves sufficient time through trial and 
error to get to the bottom of their characters and truly master 
.them. On the other hand, continued Jouvet, there were passive 
actors who slowly and vaguely absorbed the text, with the 
result that the crystallization is incomplete; though their 
gestures may seem to be right, the characterizations have be- 
come in fact loosely held together composites, instead of 
clearly delineated^ creations, 

He said further that to be fully effective in bringing the 
student to an understanding of himself, the professor must 
try to help him see himself as others see him, for only then 
can the student obtain a just and objective appraisal of him- 
self. This is most difficult to accomplish. A painter, after 
the completion of a painting, may stand aside from it to judge 
it objectively, then add whatever is necessary to improve it. 
The actor cannot do this. He must depend on others for criti- 
cism and important correctives until he has reached a high 
point in his development, that is, a sure awareness of himself, 
of his abilities, and a keen sense of the stage. To apprehend 
the actor's problems, to make him understand them, these 
are the essential abilities necessary for sound teaching. 15 

This was not orthodox teaching, but Jouvet had never been 
orthodox in his methods. He was a pioneer in many respects 
and he dared to be bold. He taught that, according to his 
experience, it would be unwise for him to instruct his students 
in the well-worn acting techniques then prevailing. This 
would tend to constrain them and subject them to inflexible 
formalizing influences. Every student had to learn to evolve 
his own active techniques by trial and error. Jouvet, in trying 
to help his pupils achieve this essential knowledge of them- 
selves, used a Socratic method in the classroom; he probed 

162 The Athenee Theatre 

and questioned, sometimes pointlessly or maliciously. For 
instance, he would bring a student to the point of casting 
doubt upon Ms most recently held convictions. By shaking 
the student free of facile convictions and by forcing fresh 
choices upon him, Jouvet would bring him to a knowledge of 
the rich resources in himself, the complexity and wealth of 
life, and the many dimensions of the mind. Thus, step by 
step, the student would come to a fuller understanding of his 
potentialities. 16 

Jouvet also wanted to know what Ms students might un- 
wittingly reveal about themselves physically, and so he 
ventured on a series of experiments. He studied their psycMc 
make-up also, because he wanted to understand the whole man. 
In these unique experiments he often taught Ms pupils by 
surprising and baffling them. They would ask him why he 
made them play certain roles to wMch they felt themselves 
unsuited, not realizing that Jouvet was pursuing a consistent 
method of putting them into situations wMch would test their 
basic physical and mental abilities and their integrity. Under 
Jouvet's pressure, they would, little by little, rid themselves 
of acquired bad habits and false conceptions of themselves; 
for, in general, they had been poorly oriented and were only 
vaguely aware of what was fundamental in the art of acting 
and what was authentic in themselves. 17 

Carrying this matter further, he suggested that they leam 
how to conceal their feelings when expressions of these feelings 
might intrude upon the parts they were performing. But tMs, 
he warned, could be carried too far. He gave an example. 
One evening, during a performance of Leopold le Bien Aime f 
Jouvet noticed a small wound on the palm of a fellow actor. 
When Jouvet asked h how he had been hurt, he said that, 
as he was lighting his pipe in the third act of the play, the 
match had burst and fallen into the palm of his hand; but in 
order to remain in character, he suppressed the pain. 18 

Jouvet also tried to imbue his students with self-confidence. 

The Great Period 163 

TMs is most difficult to accomplish because of the actor's 
sensitive make-up. He is particularly nervous before the test 
of the first night, on which so much depends. In time he 
cloaks himself in superstitions to muffle his fears; like Jouvet 
himself, he surrounds himself with a hedge of taboos in order 
to lean on the support of mysterious forces. 

From earliest times, the stage has been fertile ground for 
taboos and superstitions. To fend off the invasion of pessi- 
mistic thoughts, actors make many curious, sometimes reBgi- 
ous gestures, like knocking on wood. They follow a pattern 
of behavior filled with superstition before the opening night. 
The patterns are various, and sometimes take a brutal or 
aggressive form. A group of actors will sometimes dismiss 
from among them those unfortunate enough to have won a 
reputation for bringing bad luck into the theatre. These be- 
havior patterns are age-old and perhaps serve a sound psy- 
chological purpose. But the following taboos seem particularly 
strange: an umbrella must not be opened on stage; no actor 
may bring a bird in a cage on stage; no mechanic or director 
may use the word "cord* 9 inside a theatre. 19 

Taboos and superstitions live as lively a life as ever in the 
theatre. Jouvet himself was bound by them. In his odd and 
persistent way, he would ask why it is that a theatre with 
700 seats is packed for several nights in succession, and then 
only a scattering for the next few nights? Jouvet believed that 
neither statistics nor physics could explain this phenomenon. 
He accounted for it by saying that the theatre itself had a soul, 
which gradually took form in the atmosphere of the product- 
ions given in the theatre. 

Jouvet liked to pose other "unanswerable" questions linked 
to the theatre. Acoustics often cannot be improved, he said, 
by the sound engineer. Why? Because acoustics have an 
independent life and can be altered only by a change in the 
stage sets, or in the quality of the plays produced, or by the 
number of actors in the troupe. So, he concluded, the theatre 

164 The Athenee Theatre 

has a "dramatic sonority," with a distinct and individual 

nature. It enjoys a good or bad health, which depends in large 
measure on the success or failure of the theatre's repertory. 20 
The theatre also has a jinx, Jouvet said. If a certain un- 
desirable person* a Miss X or Mr. Y, should happen to be ID 
the audience, the play will fail- Jouvet was even prepared to 
name the jinxes in the audience, whose malign influence fore- 
doom the crystallization of the dramatic mood in a perfor- 
mance. A director may be enthusiastic about a certain play's 
possibilities after reading it; but in the end may decide not 
to produce the work because of another director's failure 
with it. To illustrate this point, Jouvet recalled that he had 
once told Antoine that he admired Gerhardt Hauptmann's 
play, UAssomption ifHannele Mattern, and intended to pro- 
duce it; whereupon Antoine looked at him pityingly and said: 

My friend, you won't make a penny. I loved this play and I tried to stage 
it ten times ; at the Theatre Antoine during my first administration at the 
Odeon, and again during my second administration. It never caught on. 

Don't do it, if s ill-fated. 21 

Jouvet did not produce it. 

Jouvet went on to say that good actors can sense the mood 
of the audience and what it portends. Soon after the beginning 
of La Margrave, 'both. Renoir and Jouvet sensed an ominous 
mood in the audience that portended the failure of the play* 
But they never mistook an ominous and oppressive silence, 
which signified indifference and boredom in the audience, 
for the hush of subdued excitement. 22 

He then posed a more serious question: Why is Giraudoux 
successful while others, perhaps equally gifted, are failures? 
What magic attracts and holds an audience? This power is 
difficult to analyze; it is inherent in the playwright's genius. 
Actors who perform in Giraudoux's plays realize this; and 
they have the satisfaction of knowing just when the audience 
is caught in the tide of the drama, absorbed in the story. Only 
great writers have succeeded in creating the dramatic stasis* 23 

The Great Period 16$ 

To study the details of Jouvet's lectures on the theatre is 
to see him revealed as a many-sided man whose well thought 
out ideas must be taken seriously. His fame as a lecturer on 
things theatrical brought him many offers of lecture engage- 
ments. He received the distinction of being invited to make 
the commemorative address on the fiftieth anniversary of 
Henri Becque's play, La Parisienne. Unorthodox and bold 
as usual, he plainly announced his distaste for Becque's work 
in his lecture entitled, "La Disgrace de Becque." 24 This was 
startling but characteristic of Jouvet's fundamental integrity. 
He noted that Becque had suffered many misfortunes during 
his life because of his unpleasant, gruff, and rude personality. 
These characteristics, he said, were reflected in his plays. 
There is not one requited love in all of his works; they are 
devoid of poetry and brutally realistic at all times. Unlike 
Giraudoux's, Becque's plays lack the inherent joy which de- 
rives from the deep understanding between the author and 
the characters he creates. 25 

Despite Jouvet's distaste for Becque's work, he devoted a 
great deal of time to preparation for the speech. The result 
could only be a frosty objectivity. On the other hand, in his 
articles on Moliere and Giraudoux, the reader is struck by 
the incantatory and poetic character of his prose. But his 
lecture on Becque, on the contrary, consisted of little more 
than a series of statistics, devoid of feeling or sympathy for his 
subject. The document remained lifeless. Jouvet had per- 
formed a duty, and perhaps not with very good grace. His 
portrait of Becque as a man and playwright is too much of a 
black-and-white affair. 

But Jouvet was consistent in his critical approach, and he 
was not awed by great names; he had no higher opinion of 
Victor Hugo's plays than he had of Becque's. Hugo's char- 
acters were superficial; they lacked both depth and psycholo- 
gical import; they were unreal. A creation like Moliere's 
Alceste, or Tartuffe, or Shakespeare's Hamlet has a complex 

166 The Athenee Theatre 

psychological core and breathes life. Each is so rich in Ms 
personality that he lends Mmself to many different interpre- 
tations. Successive generations of actors add some richness of 
detail to the personality, or see something new and striking 
in it that had been overlooked before their time. There are 
always potential new phases of development to be discovered 
in characters like Hamlet and Tartuffe because they come out 
alive from the texts and are not contrived by wit and skill. 
Hugo's character, Ruy Bias, is makeshift; there is nothing in 
it to stimulate an actor's imagination, so he will always make 
of it a stereotype, a mechanical portrait to serve a rhetorical 
purpose. Jonvet admired Hugo's tremendous vitality in Ms 
poetry and novels; but his theatre, by comparison, revealed 
his impoverishment. 26 

Giraudoux's characters strongly appealed to Jonvet because 
they had a fundamental plasticity, richness, and variety, so 
that they lent themselves to different interpretations. They 
belong to the great tradition. This is certainly true of the 
characters in La Guerre de Troie rfaura pas Lieu (Tiger at 
the Gates) which he next produced. Jouvet's direction suc- 
ceeded in bringing out not only the sensitive and poetic cpiality 
of the text, but also Giraudoux's underlying sympathetic 
warmth for his characters, 

J ouvet as Hector created a human and understandable char- 
acter. Hector confessed that he had loved war in his youth and 
been intoxicated by the glory of battle. But he had been 
crushed with grief when he found a boon companion slain in 
battle. Then, he had suddenly realized the horror, cruelty, 
and waste of war. From that moment on he held war to be 
an offense against humanity. To fight a war merely to settle 
the fates of Paris, Helen, and Menelaus was madness. However, 
here is the irony of the matter* here is perverse human nature; 
when Ajax, Ulysses* drunken companion, tries to make love 
to Andromache in Hector's presence* Hector throws his deadly 
spear. Thus his carefully conceived antiwar edifice crumbles 

The Great Period 167 

under the pressure of emotion and the Trojan war breaks 
loose. 27 

J ouvet's costume for the role was a delight. He wore open- 
toed Grecian sandals, long tight black leggings, and a black 
tunic secured around his waist by a belt. A grey cloth shawl 
was draped over his shoulders. His outward appearance was 
calm; his voice, however, was vibrant and forceful, particular- 
ly when delivering his speech commemorating the dead, and 
he was all the more effective for these contrasts. Jouvet, who 
himself hated war, felt so close to the character that his identi- 
fication with it gave it a terrible force and authenticity. Since 
he could supply the small details which make a portrait re- 
cognizable to the audience, his performance had remarkable 
impact and left a memorable impression. 

The decor was simple an assemblage of white cubes, dis- 
posed to represent different objects with lights in varying 
colors and intensities shining on them. Act I took place on a 
terrace in Troy. Act II took place in a square beyond which 
was the sea. Standing like ominous sentinels on either side of 
the stage, the gates of war stood ajar. 

Le Supplement au Voyage de Cook, the second play of the 
evening, was modeled after Diderot's Supplement au Voyage 
de Bougainville. Giraudoux's lighthearted bantering comedy 
takes place in Tahiti, in the year 1769. The plot is both un- 
complicated and droll. Captain Cook, before disembarking 
his crew in Tahiti, sends the Protestant missionary and his 
wife (Romain Bouquet and Annie Cariel) in advance to clear 
the way for an understanding between the British and the 
Polynesians. On talking to Outourou (Jouvet), the tribal 
chief, they are astonished to find what they consider to be 
frank animism and laxity of morals on this island. This gives 
Giraudoux ample opportunity to satirize French mores. 

The play is comic as the situation suggests. Outourou was 
dressed in a short pleated white skirt, with a grass ankle- 
bracelet on each ankle and on Ms left knee, and two beaded 

168 The Athenee Theatre 

bracelets on his upper arms. His chest was bare. He wore a 
scalloped white collar, and around his neck, three large beaded 
necklaces and other ornamental accessories. The rest of the 
male inhabitants were dressed in similar fashion, but with 
less ostentation. The women wore grass skirts and bodices, 
with flowers in their hair. The intrusion of the stately Protes- 
tant missionary, in severe black suit and black hat, among 
these brilliantly costumed uninhibited TahMans, brought the 
audience to hilarious uproar. Le Supplement au Voyage de 
Cook and La Guerre de Troie n*aura pas Lieu were both 
eminently successful. 

The versatile Jouvet, actor, movie star, 28 director, designer 
of stage sets, technician, lecturer, was now about to receive 
one more honor. He was commissioned to write several articles 
on the theatre for the French Encyclopedia. The first, pub- 
lished in December, 1935, under the title of "L'Interpretation 
dramatique," discussed the art of the comedien. 

In the article, Jouvet defined the acteur as contrasted with 
the comedien, The acteur 9 Jouvet wrote, is restricted in the 
practice of his art by the nature of Ms talent and the excess 
of Ms personality. He can play only a few roles since a he can 
only present a distortion of his own personality .** The 
comedieiiy on the other hand, has the inherent capacity to play 
all types; "an actor enters the skin of a character, the comedian 
is entered by it** 29 

A tragedian, for example, is always an acteur, that is, an 
interpreter whose personality is strong, self-evident, and robust. 
But his mimetisme keeps Ms role intact even when his per- 
sonality tends to intrude and deform it; and the audience 
accepts the creation despite his strong intrusive personality. 
Mimetisme is defined by Jouvet as a force similar to hypnotism. 
It is evident in the childhood of the born actor. A perfect 
comedien is one who has intensely developed tMs power. One 
might conclude that the main difference between the acteur 
and the comedien is in the full use and the mimetic force with 

The Great Period 169 

wMch the comedien is by nature endowed, as against the 
exploitation of Ms personality on the part of the acteur; one 
is flexible and adaptable, the other limited. The comedien 
is the character he portrays. The acteur is always himself. 

Holding these views, Jouvet naturally denied that any 
benefit derived from subjecting the emergent actor to any 
rigid rules and regulations. Another objection to formal train- 
ing, said J ouvet, is that the theatre is fluid and subject to 
different influences in different generations. Hence the 
comedien must be prepared to adapt himself to new conditions, 
to the atmosphere of different epochs. 

The student, before he adopts the profession of actor, must 
be certain that he is endowed with the mystical mimetisme 
which will fit him, for his vocation; besides, he must have 
certain physical qualities a harmonious body, good voice, 
a mobility which is capable of expressing a wide range of 
emotions. Jouvet conceded that there have been French tra- 
gedians who did not possess these specifications, such as 
Lekain, Talma, and Mounet-SuIIy. But according to him 
France never has had a pure and true comedien. 

Secondly, and very importantly, the student must show that 
he has the capacity to absorb and fully understand the text 
he is to help interpret; he must be capable of visualizing the 
text as it will be brought to light on the stage. For this be 
must have an accurate and vivid imagination, backed by a 
broad knowledge of human beings and their conduct under 
stress. The actor, according to Jouvet, is merely a parasite 
who lives on the blood of the text and his function is to nourish 
the audience with the living stuff he has brought to life from it. 

Thirdly, the student must learn instinctively how to estab- 
lish an accord among himself, Ms fellow actors, and his public. 
To begin with, he must impose upon himself an inner peace 
before he walks on stage, and obtain, concurrently, a physical 
deconcentration, a kind of dim inward relaxation, a spiritual 
plasticity, a mood receptive to the molding of Ms character. 

170 The Athenee Theatre 

And while performing with his fellows, he must subtly control 
this quasi-mediumlike personality, be it, and live it* When 
the actor has succeeded in completely living the life of his 
role, his personal magnetism will be felt and will penetrate 
the audience. If, however, the actor should fail to lose himself 
in the role, or if the others in the cast should fail to establish 
a harmony with him, the play may at best become mechanical, 
or at worst, go to pieces. 30 

During this period Jouvet's mind turned more and more to 
the philosophical and psychological aspects of the theatre. 
They wove a pattern through Ms mind and influenced his 
way of life. It was fortunate for him that he could give ex- 
pression to his ideas and at the same time fulfill one of his 
greatest ambitions, the production of MoBere's UEcole des 
Femmes with himself as Amolphe. In 1909, he had played 
Amolphe in the production given at the Universite Populaire 
du Faubourg St. Antoine. He had acted in the role of Amolphe 
in his test for admission to the Conservatoire. But he had not 
until now felt fully prepared to produce the play, and it might 
be observed that UEcole des Femmes was the first classical 
play Jouvet had produced since he had become director of 
a theatre. 31 

"UEcole des Femines 9 written in 1662, was one of HoBere's 
greatest successes during Ms lifetime. Since then, the Theatre- 
Fran^ais had produced it over a thousand times. However, 
the play, like words too often used without sharpness of defi- 
nition, had in time become shopworn; it required an original 
and vigorous production to bring it to life in all its vitality 
and magnificence. 

But so much preparatory work had to be done that three 
months before its scheduled opening, Jouvet still doubted 
whether it would be ready in time. But he resolved to open 
on the scheduled date despite all obstacles and reverses. 
Consequently, he threw himself into the preparations with 
renewed zest. 

The Great Period 171 

J olivet's view of Moliere's work was not based on past con- 
ceptions. He did not study critical analyses of the play, of 
which there were hundreds, but was inspired by the text alone. 
He intended to evoke the play from the text, and he accom- 
plished this with such skiU and broad humanity that his 
production of IfEcole des Femmes became a shining example 
for future producers of Moliere. 

Jouvet sought a new approach to the classical comedy. First, 
he rid himself of all preconceived ideas about the text, and 
ontdated conceptions about the costumes, decors, and mise 
en scene. Moreover, he was going to present it in its entirety, 
as few before him had had the courage to do. In no better way 
could he express its scope as Moliere had planned it, 32 Jouvet's 
enthusiasm and the inspired support of his troupe were richly 
rewarded. His Arnolphe was so brilliantly conceived that 
many thought the real Amolphe had been resurrected, the 
Araolphe to whom Moliere had given the breadth of life and 
who supposedly had died with him. In past productions, 
Arnolphe had often been portrayed as being crotchety, peevish, 
and surly. Leon Bernard had portrayed him as sheepish, 
naiVe, and selfish; Leloir played him as a dry and despicable 
fellow; and Lucien Guitry made IIIT both sober and severe 
(and by so doing, he had turned a comedy into a tragedy, a 
consummate piece of misconception on his part of Moliere's 
intentions) . 

Jouvet was a jocular Arnolphe, gloating over every trick he 
played. Above all, he delighted in conceiving himself as an 
exceptional husband to whom his wife would never be un- 
faithful. He was far too perspicacious a fellow, he thought, ever 
to be duped. Confiding his theories on marriage to Crysalde, 
and planning how to keep Agnes faithful (by locking her up 
and permitting her to have no visitors), he was delightfully 
amusing to the audience in the way he coddled and deceived 
himself. This portrayal was at complete variance with the 
conception of his predecessors. 33 Jouvet portrayed Arnolphe 

172 The Athenee Theatre 

as a good-humored and almost ferociously gay man. 34 

Laughter greeted him as soon as he strutted on to stage. In 
spite of the funambulesque quality of the play, the brief en- 
counters, the abrupt departures, the village interludes, the 
asides, Jouvet always kept matters in balance, and with bril- 
liant agility, maintained the tone and poetry of the dialogue. 
He gave Paris something completely Itolierescfue, a happy 
medium between farce and Mgh comedy. 35 

There was also great variety in Jouvet's acting. His Amolphe 
was constantly moving about, and he had a broad range of 
significant and amusing gestures. His eyes were fascinating to 
an audience, with their brilliant and varied changes of mood. 
At one moment they would be full of laughter, at the nest, 
they would be intent; then a fresh surprise, changing suddenly 
to desperation, and once again an expression of sheer joy in 
his own high animal spirits and delight in the clever planning 
and inventions. 

All the props in the play contained a subtle significance. 
Jouvet's walking stick, for instance, like Geronte's umbrella, 
in the Vieux-Colombier production of Les Four&eries de 
Scapin, clearly revealed what he did not, and need not, say; 
it was a tool of pantomime. He leaned on it when fatigued; 
he let it fall when unhappy. In a fit of temper, he threw his 
handkerchief down, and in a moment of anguish, Md his face 
in it. He used these props to carry the currents of his feeling 
beyond his own physical self. 

Jouvet also knew how to express irony. In Act HI, for 
example, before reading the maxims on marriage to Agnes, 
Amolphe first savored Ms own superiority; then, believing 
he would be an exceptionally fortunate husband, let his joy 
bubble out of Tiim. This was indeed ironical since he was 
naively deluding "himself on all counts. Pierre Brisson. wrote 
that I on vet's acting in this scene was one of the high points in 
the production. 36 

When, however, a painful fact penetrates Ms Mde, Amolphe 

The Great Period 173 

begins to waver. Then Jouvet suddenly plays an uneasy 
Amolphe, with a chastened heart and clear insight. Now, 
since he is unsure of Ms power to hold a woman, he is sadly 
distressed and expresses it superbly. While still in a state of 
happy illusion ahout himself, Jouvet's features are composed; 
but when invaded by doubts and fears, Ms face goes out of 
control in gargoyle distortions. But only for a few seconds. 
He soon recovers his complacency since he is not deeply hurt, 
only offended in Ms pride; his crisis is the result of great 
jealousy. Araolphe wants to possess Agnes, just as Harpagon 
(UAvare) wanted to possess Ms moneybox, as a valued pos- 
session. At the end of the third act, in Agnes' room, after 
hearing that Agnes wrote a love letter to Horace, Araolphe 
goes mad with jealousy. But the role is basically comic since 
Amolphe is too richly fortified with an abundant supply of 
vanity for any hurt to leave a deep scar; and lite a rubber ball, 
he always bounces back. Jouvet kept the play on just that 
comic level. 

Jouvet understood this character so perfectly and sustained 
it so well that he was never forced to resort to theatrical arti- 
fices or stereotypes during any performance. He brought out 
the ground swells and rich rhythmic patterns of Moliere's 
text. His speech was always clear and sharp and never slurred, 
despite some difficult versification. This added a new di- 
mension of beauty and significance to the production. More- 
over, the text had been so well digested by the actors that 
they could be fully cooperative and understanding; the cast 
was a unit, and all of the members instruments through wMch 
Moliere's lines came to life. 

Pierre Brisson felt, however, that Jouvet sometimes carried 
his clowning too fan In Act IV, for example, in the garden, 
Jouvet rushes up and down the ladder several tinies to see 
what is going on beyond the garden walls. Brisson wrote that 
these unnecessary gymnastics were not only absurd and out 
of place, but they also turned a light comedy into a broad 

174 The Athenee Theatre 

farce. 37 Lucien Dubech on the other hand applauded Jouvet's 

At last! At last, an actor who is sufficiently intelligent to treat Moliere 
as a comic and Ms comedies as comedies! At last, the purging of roman- 
ticism, the return to taste and common sense, to moral and intellectual 
health, to the separation of genres, in short, as we see it, the return to 
the true spirit of Moliere and his century, the return to classic art. 38 

Jouvet's production, with the actors circulating gaily about 
the stage in their colorful costumes, wove an enchanting tapes- 
try and reminded many of the commedia delfarte with its 
Ballets and spirited improvisations. 39 

*The scene takes place in a city square," wrote Moliere. 
He did not name the town. When Amolphe asked Horace 
what he thought of it, Horace answered: 

Numerous are the citizens and snperb are the braidings. And I Believe 
marvelous are the recreations. 

In past production the stage sets had been many and varied. 
When the Comedie-Frangaise produced UEcole des Femmes 
in 1922, the metteur en scene placed a small platform in front 
of Agnes* house and several scenes were enacted there. When 
the play was produced at the Odeon, the platform was dis- 
pensed with in favor of a garden. Antoine used a garden in 
Ms production because* he maintained, when Arnolphe asked 
Agnes to walk with him, in Act II, he said: a The walk is beauti- 
ful, very beautiful. 9 * So a director might conclude that Agnes 
and Arnolphe were walking in the garden through different 
paths. 40 

Jouvet, however, was more ingenious than his predecessors. 
He kept to one stage set, but the set parted to disclose another 
decor, giving the impression of two distinct sets. At the opening 
of the play, the stage represented a deserted public square. 
There were arcades both in the rear on the sides of the stage. 
In the center, there was a towerlike structure, Agnes' house, 
with a circular balcony. This structure stood in a garden* 
surrounded by walls which converged diagonally toward the 

The Great Period 175 

prompter's pit. When Arnolphe entered Agnes' house, the 
walls drew back, disclosing a charming garden with rose bushes, 
espaliered fruit and other kinds of trees. Pierre Sonrel wrote: 
"The working of this set merits attention in that one observes 
here the most orthodox principles of classical machinery ap- 
plied to a finished set." 41 

Agnes' house was painted white with red daubs. To some 
this seemed a radical departure from Moliere's intentions for 
when Horace pointed to the house, he said, "of which you see 
the reddened walls." But the word "reddened" can be inter- 
preted in several ways: made of bxick, or painted red, or 
covered with vines in their autumnal colors. Jouvet preferred 
the last interpretation. He believed that the play took place 
at the summer's end and that the foliage had already turned 
color. Berard carried out Jouvet's ideas when he created the 
sets. His decor was Italian in spirit. He used large areas of 
white with red daubs to give the house a rustic air. The garden 
walls and the colorful vines also served to conceal the actors 
when making their asides, thus making the asides seem more 
natural. 42 The lighting effects were striking and unusual. Five 
chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling of the stage into 
each of which fitted many candles. When lighted, they pro- 
duced the effect of illuminated sticks of candy. The spotlight 
was used to good effect; when Agnes conversed with Horace 
(Act II, scene V) a pink light shone on her, when she was 
alone or talking with others, a white light illumined the stage. 
But the incidental music, composed by Vittorio Rieti, did not 
meet with the favor of all the critics. 

UEcole des Femmes was another of Jouvet's great triumphs. 
Many favorable, as well as some amusing criticisms attended 
this production. For instance, Pierre Bost, Jouvet's friend, 
wrote a highly favorable review of UEcole des Femmes under 
the pseudonym of M. Lasalle. Jouvet was so touched by this 
review that he wrote M. Lasalle the following letter, without 
realizing that he was writing to Pierre Bost: 

176 The Athenee Theatre 


I was loo appreciative of your criticism of L'Ecole des to 
forego the pleasure of leEing you so. 

I am not particularly fond of mimed tableaux and I am convinced that 
another producer will perhaps find a less artificial solution. What was 
of import t me was the tone of the play, and the fact that yon appreciated 
our show completely satisfies me. 

Thank yon also for the support yon are giving us in sending the 
public t see the play. 43 

Jouvet's interest In Moliere did not cease with the produc- 
tion of UEcole des Femmes; on the contrary, he was later to 
lecture on Moliere, write articles about him, and produce more 
of his plays. Several weeks before his first lecture on Uoliere, 
he was made an Officer of the Legion of Honor. About this 
time, too, he was honored with the offer of the position of 
General Administrator of the Comedie-Franc.aige. Jouvel, how- 
ever, declined and suggested Edouard Bourdet in his place. He 
also suggested that Copeau, Dullin, Baty, and himself be invited 
to become metteurs en scene for the Comedie-Frangaise. 44 
The President of the Republic, in agreement with Jouvet, de- 
creed the following: 

Article I: The playwright Edomard Bonrdet has been named general 
director of the Comedie-Franc,aise to replace Mr. Emile Fabre who has 
Been granted the permission, at his own request, to assert his claim 
for a pension beginning Oct. 15, 1936, at which date Mr. Edoraard Bour- 
det is to assume his active duties. 

Article II: Messrs. Gaston Baty, Jacques Copean, Charles DuUin, Louis 
Jonvet will he in charge of the staging. 45 

As official metteur en scene for the Coniedie-Franc.aise, 
J Olivet's interests were not limited to the designing of sets; 
he also concerned himself with remodeling obsolete Parisian 

This was an excellent outlet for his constructive energy; 
but he wished that he could erect an ideal theatre, to 

. . . construct a theatrical art, starting from its architecture, to recover 

its Aeschylnsian function, thanks to the remains of the theatres of Dion- 
ysus or Epidanras, and the character of Shakespeare's, from the tracks 

l*ff fvv tin at AYt!n*t animal whi4i wso tin* On-nk* tl*aa**-A *!*<** *vf MAK-* 

The Great Period 111 

in the Versailles, where his plays were performed in brief, to bring 
forth from a stone-like vertebrae, the large, living body of a by-gone 
mystery. 46 

While J otivet was building these theatrical castles in the air, 
he was making his fourth movie, Mr. Flow; 47 during the same 
period, he was directing, though not acting in a three-act play, 
Chateau de Cartes, by his friend Steve Passeur. Passeur was 
pessimistic about the success of his play which opened on 
January 9, 1936. Jouvet, to the astonishment of his friends, 
was exceedingly optimistic about it. Before the opening, he 
told Passeur that they would "make something good of this! mrf 
It turned out that Passeur was right. 

In spite of this failure, the season 1936-1937 was to be a rich 
one for Jouvet. It was the tricentenary anniversary of Cor- 
neille's Le Cid. The directors of the Comedie-Fran^aise de- 
cided to celebrate it with a revival of CorneiHe's plays. The 
new administrator, Edouard Bourdet, soon realized that there 
was not sufficient time for this ambitious undertaking, and that 
it would be wiser to produce just one of his plays. The choice 
fell on Vlllusion Comique. This was surprising since L'/ZZu- 
sion Comique had been given only a few times at the Comedie- 
Frangaise and had been almost forgotten by both actors and 
public. But the choice pleased Jouvet since so much of the 
world of Corneille still remained unexplored and this play 
had many strange and surprising features. As Pierre Lievre re- 
marked, this production was "the remittance of a valuable 
heritage a long time left vacant." 49 

Jouvet shortened the name of the play to Vlllusion, feeling 
that the brief title lent mystery to the play and suggested a 
more subtle and vague atmosphere. 

Vlllusion Comique is played on two levels, the realistic and 
the supernatural, 50 and so many changes of scene are necessary 
that Pierre Lievre wrote: 

Jouvet is the only man who has succeeded in making use of the machinery 
at the Theatre Pigalle. It was certain that he would use wisely thai with 
which the Theatre-FranQais has just been provided. 51 

178 The Athenee Theatre 

As usual Jouvet devoted a great deal of time to the study of 
the text, which, had to do with a magician, a subject very po- 
pular in the seventeenth century. To find the proper back- 
ground for the production, he not only rummaged among 
previous ones, but also consulted Mahelot's Memoire, according 
to which the decor of the first production was as follows: 

In the middle, we must haYe a highly decorated palace; on one side 
of the theatre, another, for a magician, above, OB a mountain. On the 
other side of the theatre, a park For the first act, a night, a moon which 
moves, some nightingales, an enchanted mirror, a wand for the magician, 
some iron collars or manacles, some trumpets, some paper horns, a hat 
of cypress for the magician. 52 

But Christian Berard*s sets differed considerably from these. 
The first scene of Act I was heavy with a sense of mystery and 
foreboding, for the audience was confronted with a huge grotto 
draped with black curtains, looking, in semidarkness, much 
like a monstrous mouth. Inside the magician stood in his 
shelter. At a flourish of the magician's- wand, the mouth open- 
ed, and apparitions appeared in it, following each other in 
quick succession, unfolding the marvelous adventures of the 
H atamore, Isabelle and Clindor. During the proceedings, fan- 
tastic structures rose from the stage and descended from the 
roof; grotesquely dressed buffoons dance a fanciful ballet. 
Then a prison, looking like an extravagant bird cage, was slow- 
ly lowered from the ceiling. Act V was equally strange and 
Goyesque. A small theatre, illuminated by candles, moved 
slowly from the rear of the theatre out to the f orestage. Spec- 
tators were sitting in boxes dressed in black and white. The 
actors wore gold costumes. They appeared briefly, and faded 
as the curtains came down. Once again, the audience was con- 
fronted with the openmouthed grotto of Act I. 53 

The dreamy and eerie lighting effects conceived by Jouvet 
lent an illusionist quality to the performance. The strange 
grouping of people on stage, the abrupt irrational movements 
of some of the actors, the whirling ballets, and the halluci- 
nating atmosphere created by the phantoms appearing in quick 

The Great Period 179 

succession, gave a strange nightmarish quality to the produc- 
tion. The colorful costumes were like flashes of brilliant lights 
against a web of darkness and mystery. An example of the 
dramatic use of color was Isabelle's arrival in her blue chariot, 
dressed in mauve, and preceeded by musicians dressed in black 
and white costumes. Jouvet wrote: 

Comeille, though the collaboration of Christian Berard, will no doubt 
discover for the first time, the true elements of witchcraft, which it calls 
forth, composed of wit, grace, youth, and freshness. Thanks to his sketches, 
I understood the rather fantastic, extravagant, and Romanesque poetry 
in it. 54 

But some critics thought that Corneille's play should have 
been presented more simply. Rene Doumic, on the other hand, 
remarked that the mise en scene was most appropriate, and 
"we do not know how to congratulate Jouvet enough for having 
so successfully produced it." 55 Pierre Lievre added a dissenting 
note, affirming that both Jouvet and Berard had taken too 
many liberties with the direction of Act V. Act V was a dif- 
ficult act to produce because of its change of scene and its 
fantasy-like nature. In Antoine's production at the Odeon forty 
years ago, he wrote, the last act had been eliminated. In the 
production at the Comedie-Frangaise, sixty years ago, the last 
act had been replaced by the first act of Corneille's Don Sancke 
<FAragon. m 

Nevertheless, Ulllusion was a great popular success, and on 
opening night, in response to the audience's acclamation, the 
actors placed a bust of Corneille on the stage. This, said Mau- 
rice Martin du Card was "again a lesson in good taste which 
Louis Jouvet gave us." 5T 

Two days after the opening night of Ulllusion, Jouvet was 
again invited to lecture on Moliere. However, he was so busy 
that he hardly had time to prepare the lecture, and in a letter 
to Giraudoux remarked: 

I have not as yet delivered my lecture on Moliere and I am filled with 
anguish because I shall barely have three or four days to prepare it after 
the dress rehearsal; the subject becomes more and more extensive. It 

182 The Athenee Theatre 

fantasy and humor. The right approach to Moliere is through 
the gateway of love. However, the actor who wants to play 
Moliere's characters must pass through three phases. In the 
first, he must read and reread the play, Ignoring aH the com- 
mentaries that have been written about it, and thus "he strips 
himself more and more, he strips himself to the extreme limit, 
to the very text itself, and he savors its integrality, he finds 
anew the necessary calm before the aridity of cold type." 64 
The actor is now gripped By the play, by its rhythm, its poetry, 
its characters, and its pervasive comedy. Then, 

having a conception of the characters set both in heart and mind, the 
rehearsal of the text proceeds, at a more leisurely pace, assured as one 
is that this text conceals a real existence, with which one will have to 
take infinite precautions if one wants to recapture its meaning, its motion 
and its secret. 65 

The second phase focuses on the result of this newfound 
intimacy bexween the actor and the character he is to portray. 
Love for Moliere is bom a love based on understanding, ap- 
preciation, and admiration, a love which increases in intensity 

with time. 

During those moments when the feeling of sympathy reaches a state of 
mystical hypnosis, one searches for an inflection which one feels would 
Be right, a tone which would he exact, a rhythm which would correspond, 
an air or gesture which would seem to be true; a tiny indication, a sort 
of spark of life, something which, from all these sentences, from all 
these gestures, would be said, done, played by the character himself, and 
which would completely reassure, would attest to this existence which 
one has just discovered and understood, but of which one wants to have, 
like an interior and living certitude, an active certitude. 66 

The third phase emphasizes the necessity of continued study 
of the character portrayed his gestures, intonation, facial ex- 
pressions. Furthermore, the actor must now visualize the play 
as a whole; he must have a solid grasp of its rich and complex 
design and interdependent parts, its rising and falling tensions. 
But unfortunately, in many cases today, "this text has lost its 
meaning and its dramatic power, because one detached it from 
the plot which clarified it and made it live. It is the action 

The Great Period 183 

of the play, one eventually understands, which is of moment 
now." 67 

J onvet himself was at this time preparing to write a book 
on Moliere. 68 He had been considering it since his student 
days at the Faculte de Pharmacie. Unfortunately, he never 
completed the book, and many years were to pass before he 
produced another Moliere play. 

J ouvet, who fonnd much spiritual and aesthetic satisfaction 
in the reading and production of Moliere's plays, found a simi- 
lar satisfaction in the reading and production of Giraudoizx's 
works. It was with happy anticipation that he started rehear- 
sals on a new three-act play by Giraudoux, Electre. 

Once again Giraudoux turned to antiquity for material. He 
followed the classical unities of time, place, and action and 
proclaimed as his thesis: 

Humanity, by a faculty of forgetfnlness and By the dread oi complica- 
tions, reabsorbs the great crimes. But at each epoch, there arise pure 
beings, who do not want these great crimes to be reabsorbed and who 
prevent their reaBsorption, even il they use means which provoke other 
crimes and new disasters. 

Electra is of those beings. She will attain ber goal, but at the price 
of frightful catastrophies. 69 

Watching J ouvet during rehearsals, Giraudoux was so im- 
pressed by his passion for perfection of detail that he remarked 
to a reporter : 

I am working with Jouvet, but I am his pupil. "We have already produced 
seven plays together. A text written for a few, he turns into a play for 
all. 1 have just come back from a trip. I was away ten days and during 
that time I did not have a single worry. 70 

Everyone connected with the troupe noted an astonishing 
change for the better in Jouvet; he was in almost constant 
good humor while directing the rehearsals and this was the 
first time, as far as they could remember, that rehearsals had 
gone smoothly. In the past, he had always appeared harassed 
and apprehensive. 

Jouvet played the part of a God-inspired beggar, le Men- 
diant. In a language laced with imagery and irony, he com- 

184 The Athenee Theatre 

mented on the acts of fellow men, while probing their most 
secret thoughts, eventually to make dire prophesies about 
them. His part was somewhat similar to that of the chorus 
of antiquity. 

Jouvet's ascetic and worn body conferred upon him the mys- 
terious authority of one who possesses powers a little more 
than human. Whenever he commented on events, his eyes 
stared blindly into a void as they seemed to envision ap- 
proaching disaster. And yet he was powerless to arrest the 
accelerating force of disaster. He could foresee what was 
coming, but could not act to prevent its occurrence. He was 
merely a prophetic vessel. 

Jouvet spoke his lines in a sharp staccato style. By breaking 
off the ultimate vowel at the end of a phrase, he limited its 
resonance and imposed a particular rhythm on his speech. This 
gave to certain of his lines an incantatory quality, which re- 
called the manner in which prophetic pronouncements of old 
were made. To vary the effect, Jouvet would sometimes speak 
in a singsong fashion, and this added a ritualistic quality to 
the text. 71 Benjamin Cremieux praised Jouvet's measured and 
elegant gestures: "Mr. Giraudoux conceived the character of 
the beggar (which will remain one of Jouvet's great roles) 
whose prophesying is inspired almost solely by his profound 
knowledge of animal Me. 72 

The entire production was artistically conceived. On the 
stage, in the rear, stood Clytemnestra's palace, with its lateral 
porticos, built of blocks resembling pure white marble. Lights 
shone on the palace, changing in hue from light rose to blue. 
The shadows varied from yellow to emerald green, and as day 
fell they turned to ashen gray. 73 Although the decor remained 
fixed, the iridescent and polychromatic quality of the lighting 
gave variety and haunting beauty to Clytemnestra's palace. 74 
Electra was often the focus of these varied lights. Caught in 
their interplay, while sitting back against a Grecian column 
of the palace, caressing Orestes* head lying in her lap, she 

The Great Period 185 

achieved a mystical and stately quality, which made her ap- 
pear like a demigoddess. 

The staging of Electre presents still another point of inter- 
est. For the first time, perhaps, there were two staircases on 
the stage, hoth behind the palace. The actors could go up and 
down rapidly becanse Jouvet had installed elevators. In 
IfEcole des Femmes and in Le Chateau de Cartes, Jouvet had 
made use of only one elevator. In Electre, however, there were 
five elevators and two staircases. 75 

In Jouvet's revival of La Guerre de Troie, he used the lateral 
porticos which he had introduced in his production of Electre, 
and by so doing, created a lieu-type for Giraudoux's tragedies. 
Moreover, he used lighting effects somewhat similar to those 
so successfully employed in L'Ecole des Femmes. In La Guerre 
de Troie 9 however, instead of suspending five chandeliers from 
the ceiling he hung three antique lamps. The new costumes, 
designed by Christian Berard, were far more luxurious; they 
were embellished with bright colorful stones, which glittered 
like jewels when the lights played on them. To increase the 
climatic power of Hector's oration over the dead, Jouvet wisely 
restored the scenes preceding it, which had been omitted in 
his original production. Moreover, he replaced Le Supplement 
au Voyage de Cook, which had followed La Guerre de Troie 
in the original production, with a new one-act play by Girau- 
doux, U Impromptu de Paris. 

The background for La Guerre de Troie was used for I/Im- 
promptu de Paris, with a few additions. Since the story re- 
volved around a rehearsal, a few essential props were necessary, 
such as a small director's table, household chairs, and paper 
strewn about here and there to indicate casual disorder. The 
general impression was that in L'Impromptu de Paris, Girau- 
doux was deriding the drama critics. But Jouvet said that this 
play followed sound theatrical tradition in permitting the ac- 
tors to speak freely on any subject related to their profession. 
So, following Giraudoux's text, they gave their candid opinions 

186 The Athenee Theatre 

of directors, spectators, critics, authors, and actors. 76 

This personal touch was not original with Girandoiix; it had 
been introduced by Moliere in Ms Impromptu de Versailles. 
However, Moliere used Ulmpromptu de Versailles as a weapon 
against attackers; and, as the play progressed, he himself be- 
came the aggressor. Giraudonx, on the contrary, had not been 
subject to any onslaught by critics, and so his play is devoid 
of belligerency. Giraudonx spoke in general terms, and those 
few who took offense, feeling the criticism leveled at them, 
naturally reacted unfavorably to the play. 77 There were many 
critics who fumed at what they took to be insults flung at them. 
J onvet was so disturbed by some unfavorable comments that 
he wrote the following letter to Giraudonx: 

My dear friend, 

I did not send yon the rest of the criticisms of Impromptu. They are 
just as absurd as the first ones, which yon must have received, and Bear 
witness to the necessity of beginning the experiment anew at the first 
opportunity, and of dotting all the **Fs.** An "Impromptu" must he, in 
spite of everything, a play. We had a number of critics who had not 
lacked faith in it at the try-out, others were no more understanding than 
usual, and the rest would have wished more vehemence. You can't satisfy 
everybody. It's always the same story, the fable of the miller, his son, 
and the donkey. 78 

In a second letter written to Giraudonx a year later, Jonvet 
once again expressed his concern. 

My dear friend, 

An apprehensive silence greeted Impromptu, but afterwards, with the 
Guerre aroused the enthusiasm of the audience. Unfortunately, the receipts 
until now are not good. Tonight, the fifth performance, we took in only 
4,900 francs. It is the beginning of December and it is a revival. It is 
difficult to perform, but the actors are in high spirits. The Impromptu 
entertains and amuses. 

Madeleine acts very remarkably because she speaks and declaims her 
text loudly and clearly, with an evenness of tone, without those gesticu- 
lations in which she formerly indulged, and she acts with pleasure. 79 

J onvet was fond of Impromptu de Paris. He believed that 
andiences should be taken into the confidence of the actors 
and have some knowledge of the jobs of those connected with 

The Great Period 187 

the theatre. Once, when asked by a journalist, "What Is hap- 
pening to the theatre?" he remarked that the worst possible 
blow the theatre could suffer would he indifference on the 
part of the audience. "The theatre is prosperous only under 
force or protection; it would waste away under indifference." 80 
He further stated that life in the theatre was "a life where the 
spiritual appears to have reconquered its rights over material 
things, the word over acting, the text over the spectacle for 
the eyes." 81 

A sensitive and intelligent attitude toward life was now re- 
appearing on the French stage. Jouvet welcomed it as a return 
to the basic traditions of the theatre. But in pursuing this 
trend, playwrights and directors would not be considered in- 
novators, but rather continuers of tradition in the classical 
sense of the word. The naturalistic way had been found sterile. 
Once again the theatre was in a position to stimulate the intel- 
lectual life of the nation. 82 And this is just what Jouvet thought 
he would succeed in doing in his next production, Marcel 
Achard's Le Corsaire. 

After Jouvet had read the play, he was puzzled by some 
aspects of it. He discussed these problems with Achard. 

Jouvet: Your play is certainly a funny one. 

Achard: Yes, isn't it? 

Jouvet: It's not a drama, however. 

Achard: Oh! certainly not. 

Jouvet: Nor is it a fairy-play. 

Achard: It's not that either. 

Jouvet: You're not going to tell me, all the same, that it's a satirical play? 

Achard: I would not do any such thing. 

Jouvet : For all that, there is a fairy-play, a drama, and a satire in it? 

Achard: If you wish. 

Jouvet: There is comedy in it, in any case. 

Achard: Oh! yes. A lot of comedy. 

Jouvet: And poetry. 

Achard: Obviously, it is an extremely poetic play. 

Jouvet: But what do you want us to try to bring out the most, the comedy 

or the poetry? 

Achard: I don't know. We will certainly see. 83 

Le Corsaire took place on three levels: present reality, past 

18B The Theatre 

reality, and a higher or spiritualized reality. Jouvet realized 
that such a play would be difficult to produce since the scenes 
skipped from an eighteenth-century pirate's frigate to a con- 
temporary Hollywood studio. He and Berard had to discover 
a technique which would make such abrupt changes seem 
plausible. He finally decided to use some intricate theatrical 
machinery which was somewhat similar to that employed suc- 
cessfully by the corn-media delFarte* There had to be a basic 
decor which could stand for both the background of the Holly- 
wood studio and the pirate ship. 

This basic decor consisted of a darkly paneled pirate cabin 
with a bed built into the wall; in addition, there were a heavy 
mahogany table, a large chest, and a porthole which penetrated 
the semiobscurity. 

When the scene took place in Hollywood, a director's table, 
a telephone, and chairs were added. When the scene reverted 
to the eighteenth century, the stage was obscured, and from 
the area under the stage a structure rose representing the ex- 
terior of the frigate; this was fitted together in full view of the 
audience. Meanwhile, incidental music composed by Vittorio 
Rieti imitated the sound of waves and wind, sails and anchors 
being hoisted on board. After the structure had been fitted 
together, the music ceased. A bright light shone upon the new 
set. Over the ship's framework waved the skull-and-crossbones 
of the pirates' flag. On either side and in the center of the ship's 
framework there hung three dimly shining blue ship's lanterns. 
Benjamin Cremieux described them as being as unforgettable 
as "the pink walls of Arnolphe's house opening on to a garden 
of roses and trellises . . ," 84 

In Le Corsaire 9 Jouvet played two roles: Frank O'Hara, the 
Western film star, and Kid Jackson, the pirate. As Frank 
O'Hara, be was a brash and unruly fellow, first appearing with 
a bloody bandage on his head. As Kid Jackson, he wore a 
handsome pirate costume with a cloak and a broad-brimmed 
hat. His voice varied from the mellow to cracked and scratchy 

The Great Period 189 

tones, his throat having been affected by the abuse of rum. 
Jouvet gave a distinctive portrayal of each role, and he dis- 
played remarkable facility in going from one to another. As 
Robert Kemp aptly put it, 

Jomvet is admirable. Mysterious without effort; ancl playing, one would 
say, several instruments; in 1716, the buccaneer's accordion; in 1936, the 
saucy jazz trumpet. 85 

To succeed in achieving the complicated effects required by 
this play, Jouvet made full use of the opportunities of the 
well-equipped mechanized stage. The stage of the Athenee 
Theatre was in the shape of a deformed semicircle, almost like 
a horseshoe. The sets could be placed on the stage in three 
different ways: either raised from the pit under the stage, 
placed on the stage directly from storage areas in the rear, or 
let down from the ceiling. 

Sensitive Frenchmen dislike elaborate or heavy and compli- 
cated decors. Still classicists at heart, they are also repelled 
by any mixture of the genres. It has been well said that a 
Frenchman comes to the theatre to listen and that the decor 
is, for him, of secondary interest. In fact, Giraudoux once 
stated that the Frenchman "believes in the spoken word and 
not the decor.** 86 The real coup de theatre is not the noise 
made by two hundred extras as they tramp on the stage, but 
rather by the nuances felt in the lines spoken by the prota- 
gonists. Combat, assassination, or rape, which are often seen 
on German stages, are replaced, in France, by lengthy speeches, 
sometimes almost similar to a barrister's pleading. The au- 
dience, therefore, is not merely a passive witness, but on the 
contrary, an active juror. 87 Decors should simply give the 
play a suitable background and credibility within the realm 
of the imagination. 

Jouvet had become increasingly dissatisfied with the decor 
used in his productions, and it struck him that outstanding 
French painters, such as Derain, Picasso, and Berard could 
make an important contribution to the art. Moreover, theatri- 

190 The Athenee Theatre 

cal stage sets must be, before anything else, the fruit of long 
personal experience. 85 

When Joniret produced Cantique dm Cantiques* a one-act 
play fay Giraudoux, and Tricolor, by Pierre Lestringuez, at 
the Comedle-Fran^aise* he had an opportunity to carry out 
his most recent conceptions of the role of the metteur en scene. 
He asked the well known painter Edouard Vuillard, then 
seventy years old, to create the sets for Cantique des Cantiques. 
As a young man, Edouard Yuillard had designed some of the 
programs for Lugne-Poe, founder of the Theatre de PQEuvrc. 
The decor which Vuillard designed for Jouvet's latest Glrau- 
donx play was attractive, tut the play itself was uninteresting. 
The longer play in three acts, Tricolor^ was almost unani- 
mously condemned by the critics. 

Perhaps both plays were produced with insufficient power 
and conyiction to interest the audience. The theatre is a 
strange phenomenon., wrote Jouvet. 

All dramatic art, that is to say, the inspiration of the writer, the genesis of 
hii work, the actors* interpretations, the spectators' participation, all is 
summed up and expressed by that imaginative performance practiced on 
three measures, balanced in three phases, in wMch are adjusted and 
espoused the authors desire to have his fiction accepted as reality, the 
good wffl I the audience in permitting itself to be convinced, and that 
mediatory soA intermediate friendship of the actor which is, according to 
Plato, the middle link of that chain which binds the spectator to the poet. 89 

But soon afterward, Jonvet offset these failures with a 
bnlfiant success, Ondine, one of Girandoux's finest plays. 
Ondine was written as a short story in 1811 by the Baron de 
IM Motte Foncpie, descendant of a French emigre to Ger- 
many. It had been widely read in many countries ever since. 
In 1909, Charles Andler, director of German literature studies 
at the Sorbonne, asked Jean Girandonx, one of his students, 
to write for the following week, a commentary of it. Although 
GimndbttX wrote the critique, we are led to believe that he 
never hanied it m. m Then, in 1939, Charles de Polignac 
showed Girandonx a translation he had recently made of 

The Great Period 191 

Ondine, remarking that the story might well be effectively 
dramatized, Giraudoux was charmed by the exquisite beauty 
and ethereal nature of the water sprite. He proceeded at 
once to dramatize the story in highly personal and poetic 
terms. 91 As Giraudonx said: "I have written, if you wish, 
a digression on the subject of Ondine, which is pure fantasy, 
without any ties to real life." 92 

The three-act play was produced on May 4, 1939. Kleber 
Haedens was so enthusiastic about Jouvet's performance as 
the soldier Hans in love with Ondine, that he described him 
as "unbending and unvanquished by fate," having shown 
"that he was the greatest tragedian of our time." 93 When 
Jouvet first appeared on stage his voice was rude and warlike, 
revealing his lack of delicacy and sensibility. He was a vain, 
not fundamentally cruel fellow, and rather childish. He 
loved war for the opportunities it offered him. After falling 
in love with Ondine, his character slowly underwent a change, 
as if influenced by some tender magic. He became gentle, 
speaking in sotto voce tones: "The voice rarely departs from 
a pivotal note, within the limits of a third. The syllables are 
of equal duration." 04 But the time came when the soldier 
suffered a surfeit of Ondine, and there was a clash of wills 
between his human love and the unpredictable wild fairylike 
force. Then the soldier marched slowly to his doom, and 
Ondine went back to what she had been, void of any memory 
of her experience in the human world. 

The decor for the play was designed by Pavel Tchelitchew. 
The first act took place in a fisherman's cabin, where Ondine 
lived as the daughter of an old couple. Tchelitchew, straying 
from reality, draped the room with fish nets which gracefully 
hung from heavy hand-hewn beams. He placed a rough table 
in the center of the stage and some stools around it. When the 
Chevalier Hans made his first entrance he was accompanied 
by a clap of thunder, the shutters of the cabin banging 
furiously. When Ondine appeared, the cabin was flooded 

192 The Athenee Themtre 

with light, thus indicating her bright and ethereal spirit. 

The second act took place in the King's castle. Tchelitchew 
gave the main hall of the castle perspective by means of 
evenly spaced columns. The alternating black and white 
columns were made of marble. The white alabaster balus- 
trade, on either side of the stage, was lighted from within; 
in the center of the throne room were placed three chairs 
made of carved white coral. When the cast walked on stage 
in their black, gray, white, green, and red costumes with their 
white plumes and fancy laces, the extravagant daubs of color 
lent a magic quality to the entire picture. 

Act III opened on an outside court of Hans* castle. No 
longer did lyricism, fantasy, and beauty pervade the set: only 
somber silence and disiUusionment. On either side of the 
stage stood severe gray walls of cement squares; in the center 
stood a platform. The harsh and clear-cut lines of this set 
were in stark contrast to the magnificence of the second act. 
To add to this mood was Tchelitchew's background canvas of 
harsh coloring and haunting beauty. 

Edmond See was impressed by the decor; it was, he main- 
tained, u of a diversity, of an evocative art, of a rather strange 
type of baroqueiie, mysterious and hallucinating, as is ap- 
propriate.* 1 9S The musical accompaniment, written by Henri 
Sauguet, was gay and spirited, alternating between the delicate 
and ethereal and the harsh and strident. It served to help 
create a fluid overall unity in the mood of the play. 

Maurice Martin du Gard remarked: 

Louis Jouvet produced Ondme and played the part of the knight with a 
zeal, a faith, a genius for the marvelous. He is the perfect interpreter and 
director for such a dramatic poet. 9 

Kleber Haedens added: 

Qndine is one of Giraudotix* most stirring successes. "We see the poet 
there, surrounded By familiar temptations, repel them one hy one, and 
in the midst of all this, the phantasies of a romantic imagination, he calls 
down on his heroes, in a grave and inflexible voice, the fatalities of love. 0T 

Whenever Jouvet produced a play by Giraudonx, the text, 

The Great Period 193 

being so subtle and in dividual, presented several problems. 
During the rehearsals, Jouvet was always convinced that the 
play was too delicate and subtle to achieve popular success. 
But Jouvet was mistaken in his pessimism, and Giraudoux was 
fortunate to have so conscientious and able an interpreter for 
his plays. Jouvet would spare no pains in trying to get all of 
the dramatic values out of the text, and he sometimes offered 
the author suggestions that were accepted, such as the elimi- 
nation or addition of lines that would increase the tensions of 
the drama or the rounding out of the characters. Therefore, 
in a sense, Jouvet was Giraudoux's collaborator. The close 
association of these two gifted and sensitive men over the years 
was helpful in bringing out latent forces present in both of 
them. It was fortunate for the culture of France and the world 
that these two men met and worked together in such harmony. 
When Jouvet turned to MoEere and introduced a new 
IfEcole des Femmes, his creation was such a living and vivid 
one, the true spirit of the text so well conveyed that Moliere 
himself seemed once more to live among the French people. 
Moliere, Comeille and Racine, wrote Jouvet, did not appear 
to their contemporaries as sacred stuffed effigies, writing clas- 
sical texts, but rather were spinning vivid dramatic and human 
tales. It was because of their broad humanity that they were 
able to write with such freshness and force about the gaieties, 
troubles, and tragedies of men and women. It was just this 
freshness, this naturalness and sincerity which Jouvet suc- 
ceeded in recapturing. As he himself said : ^ 

If I were eloquent, I could explain to yon what emotion one can feel when 
playing a part like Arnolpfae, which Moliere created. He did not have 
much physical power, he was obliged to think of what he would do on 
stage, of his gestures, of his breathing. As for us, we rehearse for a long 
time, and then, one fine evening, the performance takes place. And sud- 
denly we realize, by the heat of the lines themselves, by the prosody, by 
the flow of sentences, by their unity and their discontinuance, that we are 
going to be set exactly in Moliere's shoes, forced to model ourselves on 
him, to imitate his breathing and his walk. I assure you that that is an 
extraordinary impression. 98 

194 The Athenee Theatre 

He had come a long way since he had entered the acting 
profession. In 1923, Jonvet had been a man passionately in 
love with all phases of his profession. As he matured through 
the years, he became preoccupied with the more profound 
moral and philosophical aspects of the theatre. He had written 
and lectured on Tarious aspects of the theatre, and had 
developed deeply personal theories on acting, stagecraft, and 
theatre architecture. He could call on the rich resources he 
possessed in these fields as well as on his knowledge of history, 
art, and literature. He was now, in the year 1939, much more 
than a man of the theatre; he was also a psychologist, which 
was helpful to him as a director and in the understanding of 
his group of actors. But his work, like that of so many others, 
was soon again to be abruptly checked by the forces of war 
breaking into the peaceful life of France. 

The War Years 

By that solicitude, that warm friendship with which you 
surrounded us, our productions, our authors, and our country, 
you tried to surmise, to foresee what we had forgotten. It was 
not only your predilections which made you like that. You tried 
to find out, by our testimonies and in our presence^ if France 
had forgotten her qualities, her faults, if it were possible that she 
had changed character in the midst of her difficulties, if it were 
possible that she was changing. I can reassure you today. France 
is alive. 1 

The German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, forced 
England and France into a declaration of war against her. 
Jouvet, in Paris at the time, saw many of his close friends and 
almost half of his cast mobilized. Of his crew of technicians, 
only two electricians and three mechanics remained behind. 
Under these circumstances, he could not reopen his theatre, 
so he accepted an offer to make a film in Nice, Vn Tel Pere et 

After finishing the film, restless and deeply disturbed, he 
was eager to return to Paris. He was irresistibly drawn to the 
city in which he had felt so profoundly at home. In 1914, 

196 The Athenee Theatre 

when France had been drawn into a war which was to destroy 
the flower of her manhood, Jouvet was young enough to have 
been drafted into the armed forces. But even then, his cor- 
respondence indicated to what extent and how gravely he, a 
sensitive individual, suffered from the brutality and ravages 
of battle. 

Several months later, on February 8, 1940, he had suffi- 
ciently recovered his health to be able to return to Paris. There 
he gathered enough actors, actresses, and technicians to begin 
rehearsals for a new production of Ondine? But Jouvet was 
very unhappy in this fearful and feverish warlike atmosphere. 
On June 11, three days before the defeat of France, Jouvet left 
for Bordeaux. There he met many of his former companions 
who had fled persecution at the hands of the Nazis. 

Jouvet, who was an unpolitical man, enjoyed a relatively 
unhampered life in the unoccupied zone. In Aix-en-Provence 
he regrouped some of the old members of his troupe and 
started to rehearse; he planned later on, in defiance of the 
Nazis, to bring his troupe to Paris. But they, declaring some 
of his plays (those by Giraudoux and Romains particularly) 
to be "anti-cultural," forbade their production. The Nazis had 
complete control of all of France's cultural departments, in- 
cluding the press, radio, and theatre. They induced many 
well-known actors and actresses to collaborate with them, and 
these performers went even further than expected to please 
their masters by circulating a despicable soul-destroying pro- 

Although Jouvet was fond of many German authors and had 
asked Giraudoux to adapt La Petite Catherine de Heilbronn 
by Heinrich von Kleist, he was unwilling to work under pres- 
sure, and while France was occupied by the Nazis, he could 
not bring himself to produce any classical or modern German 
play. 3 

But luckily, to relieve his distress and his sense of frustration, 
he accepted in October, 1940 an invitation by a Swiss theatrical 

The War Years 197 

producer to tour Switzerland with his company in IfEcole des 
Femmes and to make a moving picture based on the play. 
He sought permission of the government to leave. But the 
government would not give it; furthermore it refused him 
permission to leave Paris, where he had returned with the 
hope of producing his repertory, because of Ms free and de- 
mocratic attitude. He persisted and after two months of un- 
winding red tape, Jouvet managed to wangle the necessary 
pass from the government for his troupe and himself. 

However, before receiving official sanction to depart, he was 
required to call on Lieutenant Raedeker of the German army. 
Arriving at eight in the morning, he was requested to wait. 
After several hours of waiting, Jonvet lost patience, got up, and 
said to one of the attending officers : "I am leaving. Tell your 
commander that if he is a lieutenant in the German army. I 
am general in my profession." 4 With this, Jouvet left. He 

I left Paris to go to Switzerland because I was not permitted to produce 
two of my authors : Jules Remains and Jean Giraudoux. They found them 
anti-cultural, they offered Schiller and Goethe in their places. 

This was no longer my profession, there would have been equivocation. 

One can work in the theatre only with pleasure and in freedom. 5 

In Switzerland, Jouvet played JJEcole des Femmes to ap- 
preciative audiences. But he became so homesick that on 
February 21 he and his troupe returned to the unoccupied zone 
to give once again IfEcole des Femmes. Whenever he was in 
France or in French territory, Jouvet made it a point to perform 
a play by Moliere for the stimulating effect it had on French 
audiences, who went into rapture because "Moliere restored 
confidence." To them Moliere stood for the undying honor 
and culture of a free France. Many in the audience were moved 
to tears when the old and trembling Arnolphe appeared on the 
stage. His appearance dispelled the prevailing spiritual ma- 
laise. A schoolteacher, Mile Gippet, was so deeply affected by 
the emotional weight of the performance that she wrote Jou- 
vet the following note: "To serve France as you do, and now 

198 The Athenee Theatre 

to give us this comfort and this proof, may God bless you, Mr. 
Jouvet ... go to many cities. 9 ' 

In February, 1941, Jouvet was invited by a representative* of 
the Theatre Odeon in Buenos Aires to present his repertory 
in South America. The invitation appealed to Jouvet for it 
afforded him an opportunity to introduce Moliere and other 
eminent French playwrights to South America. The govern- 
ment granted Jouvet permission to make the tour. 

Preparations for departure were hectic. There was so much 
work to be done. Special scenery had to be constructed, old 
sets repaired, and many rehearsals held; passports and visas 
had to be obtained. Jouvet commented on this: 

This embassy finds me in very difficult circumstances, and I can just 
manage to take eight plays from my Athenee repertory: Ondine, Electre, 
La Guerre de Troie, n 9 aura pas "Lieu by Girandoux; Knock and Le Trou* 
hadec scd$i par la Debauche by Jules Romaics; Moliere s UEcole des 
Femmes; Je mwrai un Grand Amour by Steve Passenr; finally a triple 
bill, La Jalousie du Barbowtte by Moliere, La Fotte Joumee by Emile 
Mazand, and La Coupe Enchantee by La Fontaine and Cbampmesle. I 
shall present these plays as they were staged in Paris, with the, same sets. 6 

Jouvet gave strictly professional reasons for undertaking the 
tour, which was to last longer and cover more ground than 
he realized at the time. He was, in fact, to be away from France 
for four years: "The reasons I left Paris and then France are 
neither religious nor political, solely professional, 7 

The troupe left Lyon for Lisbon on May 27, 1941, and left 
Lisbon for Rio de Janeiro on June 6. During the difficult and 
hazardous voyage to South America, Jouvet rehearsed his cast 
daily, The actors displayed a fine esprit de corps and were 
courageous and self-disciplined in the face of their many 
difficulties at sea. They arrived at Rio de Janeiro on June 26 
and performed nightly there from July 7 to July 26. 8 

Jouvet liked Brazil which 5 with its forty-five million in- 
habitants, comprised half of the total population of South 
America. He found the country exotic and very beautiful in 
many parts, and the people likable. On July 28, the troupe 

The War Years 199 

left Rio and performed first in Sao Paulo and then in Buenos 
Aires, Rosario, Santa Fe, and Montevideo. On October 7, they 
returned to Rio, from which port they intended to embark for 
France. But shortly before their planned departure, they were 
invited by the Brazilian, Argentinian, and Uruguay an govern- 
ments to give a season of French theatre in their respective 
countries, with the expenses of the tour guaranteed. After 
consulting with his troupe, 10 Jouvet decided to accept the offer. 

The Canadian government then invited Jouvet to Montreal, 
Quebec, and Ottawa; but the United States government refused 
him permission to enter Canada because the Vichy government, 
and not the Free French government in exile, had sponsored 
him. This decision hurt Jouvet's pride and remained a sore 
point with him for the rest of his life. 

Because the winter season in the South American countries 
did' not begin until November, 1941, Jouvet had some time on 
his hands. He divided it between rehearsing Ms cast and 
writing the preface for a new edition of his book entitled 
Reflexions du Comedien. He incessantly turned in his mind 
his favorite ideas on the theatre, and once more attempted to 
define the complicated craft of the actor. His definition in 
this preface was far more comprehensive than any before 
given by him. An actor's task, Jouvet wrote, was the following: 

To glut himself with, and then purge himself of his thoughts and energies 
in order to communicate them to his fellows, to publicly give vent to 
passions, dissimulated or with authority, to express another's feelings by 
giving them physical embodiment and, on his own account, to remain in 
a constant state of self deception, where sincerity goes so far as to lose 
its name, to pronounce or declaim what one would not have thought, to 
feel at times what one will never experience, to divest oneself constantly 
of one's own emotions, and turn oneself into another self, every season; 
there you have the life of this monster escaped from Buffon, the actor, 
so-called. 11 

By November, 1941, the beginning of the winter season, the 
cast was well rehearsed and was by now used to Bio's tropical 
climate which in the beginning had affected them with las- 
situde. The company performed L'Ecole des Femmes, Knock, 

200 The Athenee Theatre 

Monsieur le Troukadec Saisi par la Debauche, Electre, La 
Guerre de Troie, Ondine; and it gave one performance con- 
sisting of excerpts from La, Jalousie du Barbouille, La Folle 
Journee, La Coupe Enchantee, and Je Vivrai un Grand Amour. 
Jouvet was both astonished and pleased by the favorable re- 
ception given him. 

During the South American tour, Jonvet gave not only plays 
from his repertory, but also dared to risk producing a new 
play Je Vivrai un Grand Amour by Steve Passenr. Since the 
play was successful, he took the people closer into his confi- 
dence and presented several new plays to South American 
audiences, giving South American composers and metteurs en 
scene opportunities to work with him. 12 This was an act of 
good will, a form of propaganda of which Jouvet approved. 

During Jouvet's second season in South America which 
began n November 1, 1941 and ended on September 21, 1942, 
he produced: UAnnonce Faite a Marie, Le Medecin Malgre 
Luij the first act of Le Misanthrope, Tessa, Leopold le Bien- 
Aime, On ne Badine pas avec f Amour, Judith, La Belle au 
Bois, L'OccasioTi, and L 9 Apollon de Marsac. 

UApotton de Marsac was a new one-act play by Giraudoux. 
The manuscript had arrived a little more than a month before 
the production. Giraudoux had surprised Jouvet with a tele- 
phone call from Lausanne, where he was stopping on a lecture 
tour, to tell him about his new play which he had sent Mm 
by mail. L*Apotton de Marsac arrived on May 13, and there 
was a note in it from Giraudoux. 

Dear Jo wet, clear Louis: 

Find the name of Apollon yourself. See yon soon. I am working hard 
for you. Sodome and Gomorrhe is finished, La FoUe de Chaillot will be 
ready upon your return. All of ins are thinking of you, of all of you, with 

affection, we await your retnrn. lean. 13 

Jouvet always looked forward to the production of a new 
Giraudoux play with pleasure and excitement, though he knew 
that it would present for solution grave problems requiring 

long study and reflection. 

The War Years 201 

L 9 Apollo?i de Marsac tells the story of a young girl trying 
to find a place in the world. The curtains part on the light 
and airy waiting room of an office. On both sides, facing the 
audience, there are square and semitransparent doors. The 
scene induces a grave and expectant mood. 

The attention and silence of the audience were so intense, so unaccust- 
omed in our experience, that we were suddenly frightened. How could we 
not have taken such a reception lor a sign of coldness, for painful re- 
proach? 14 

But, contrary to Jouvet's fears, the audience was captivated 
by the play and the performance and applauded enthusiastic- 
ally at the end. 

Three days later, in Rio de Janeiro, Jouvet produced Paul 
ClaudeFs L'Annonce Faite a Marie, himself playing the im- 
portant role of Anne Vercors. This play was highly successful. 
In spite of these successes during the second season, Jouvet 
had still been hard put to it to pay his expenses and was now 
running into debt. He hoped to licpiidate the debts during 
the course of his tour to Sao Paulo. 

But when Jouvet's company arrived at Sao Paulo, it dis- 
covered to its consternation that a transportation strike was 
paralyzing traffic, and that the city itself had been stricken 
with a grave influenza epidemic. People were staying away 
from the theatres and from all public places in so far as it was 
possible. In Buenos Aires the troupe ran into a similar situ- 
ation. What made it particularly distressing was that the 
South American governments had reneged on their promises 
to defray the expenses of the tour. Now it appeared that 
Jouvet would never complete the season. 15 

To make matters worse, tragic in fact, on September 1, 1942 
just before a performance of UEcole des Femmes, the theatre 
caught on fire. Jouvet arrived at eight o'clock to prepare for 
the nine o'clock performance; suddenly his stage manager, 
Rene Besson, burst in on him with the news that the theatre 
was on fire, and Jouvet opening the doors leading to the stage, 

202 The Athenee Theatre 

saw a crackling mass of flame rolling toward him. Fortunately, 
the cast had not yet arrived. 16 

The fire caused serious material loss by destroying the sets 
for IfEcole des Femmes (sets especially constracted for the 
tour) , JJAnnonce Faite a Marie, Judith, UApollon de Marsac, 
and some of the sets for Tessa. 17 Only the costumes of L'Ecole 
des Femmes and a few trifles escaped destruction. 18 

Jouvet was profoundly saddened hy the accident. But he 
was too pressed for time to hrood over this chain of misfortunes. 
He pulled himself together and continued his hard work. Had 
lie not possessed this elastic disposition, a serious depression 
of mind might have overtaken him. But work, physical as 
well as mental, was always a restorative for Jouvet. He assisted 
Ms mechanics and carpenters in the construction of new decors 
and, to obtain some cash for his unhappy actors, gave several 
successful poetic matinees. Then, from a wholly unexpected 
source a helping hand was held out; a well-known Argentinian 
actor offered to raise money to defray the cost of Jouvet's new 
decor by giving a benefit performance. But, unfortunately, 
obstacles prevented this, and the generous act was never re- 
alized. But by then the Association France-Amerique had 
heard about the troupe's critical financial situation and pre- 
sented Jouvet with a gift of 500 pesos. 18 

Although the construction of new sets had been started soon 
after the fire, they could not be completed by the deadline set 
for the company to resume its tour. Despite this, the troupe, 
now in a healthier frame of mind, went to Buenos Aires, 
Rosario, and Santa Fe, not to perform, but to give poetic 
matinees. Before its departure for Montevideo, the company 
once again produced at the Alvear Palace IfAnnonce Faite a 
Marie, the decor having just been completed. 

Jouvet's troupe was greeted with enthusiasm everywhere; 
and yet, though attendance was satisfactory, expenses were 
high. In consequence, the receipts for the season fell consider- 
ably below the receipts of the previous season, and at the tour's 

The War Years 203 

end, J olivet's funds were so low that he did not know how he 
would manage to return to Buenos Aires. However, a lucky 
turn again came to his rescue. He wrote that 

A compatriot helps us and cheers us up. He manages the largest hotel in 
Buenos Aires. He talks about France. He talks to me with enthusiasm 
about the theatre and its importance. 20 

His friends in South America, realizing the still desperate 
plight of the troupe, advised him to go to Chile, where, they 
felt, he certainly would he successful financially. En route, 
however, the company again met misfortune: one of the tracks 
carrying the scenery and theatrical equipment fell into a 
ravine. The company finally crossed the Andes, however, 
without further incident. 

On November 19, Jouvet opened in Santiago at the Theatre 
Municipal. There they played to houses filled to capacity and 
at the final performance, the Chileans, carried away by the 
troupe's brilliant acting, rose in a body, and sang the Marseil- 
laise. Greatly moved by this demonstration, Jouvet wrote, 
"This is what Chile is like." 21 

The company then performed at Vina Del Mar, and from 
December 14 to 27, it tarried, awaiting the arrival of the 
freighter Rimac, for the trip to Lima. The freighter, ecpiipped 
as a warship, had been put at Jouvet's disposal by the Peruvian 
government, a fine gesture of friendship and appreciation. 
The company arrived at Lima on January 7, 1943. 

The Peruvian government carried its generosity a bit further 
by permitting the troupe to use the Theatre Principal rent free. 
However, hard luck (but of a less severe nature) still pursued 
Jouvet; in Lima he was unfortunate enough to lose some of 
the most important members of his troupe. Madeleine Ozeray 
left to marry an orchestra leader, and Maurice Castel, Jacques 
Thiery, Emmanuel Descalzo, and Henriette Risner-Morineau 
resigned from the company. This was a blow to Jouvet's pride 
and a breach of friendship. He never was quite able to forgive 
these desertions. 

204 The Athenee Theatre 

The troupe gave three extra performances at Lima to in- 
crease their funds. From Lima they went to Quito. No French 
company of actors had played in Quito since Sarah Bernhardt. 
Then they went to Bogota where they had the distinction of 
being the first French troupe ever to perform in that city. 
There Jouvet received news of the death of the actor Remain 
Bouquet, a great loss to him since Bouquet was a devoted 
friend with whom he had worked for over thirty years and for 
whom he had great affection and respect. The troupe then 
traveled to Medellin and there on June 11, the Colombian 
aviation company, Avianca, generously put a plane at Jouvet's 
disposal to convey the troupe to Caracas. 22 The Caracas govern- 
ment paid his transportation and production expenses ; it also 
presented him, with a large subsidy, and put the Municipal 
Theatre at his disposal, free of charge; his profits were to be 
exempt from all taxes. Jouvet, now graciously received at 
official receptions in his honor, no longer suffered the ob- 
session that the fates were against him. 

From July 24 to August 19, the actors rested in anticipation 
of going to Havana, though they had not been officially invited. 
However, since Havana was on their route to Mexico, with 
which government an attractive contract had been signed, 
Jouvet decided to stop off and give a few performances. The 
trip to Havana, going directly, would cost $ 11,000 ; since the 
company did not have this sum at its disposal, Jouvet found 
it desirable to travel indirectly, in small groups, the least ex- 
pensive way. The first group left for Havana on August 8 and 
the last group arrived on August 20. But the stop-off at 
Havana proved to be unfortunate since the city was then 
suffering one of its greatest heat spells. In consequence, the 
troupe had to suspend performances there for two months. 
This was disheartening, and, as Jouvet wrote: "The trip ex- 
hausted our resources. In order to subsist, we found an inn- 
keeper who generously took the risk of sharing our expenses 
and our box-receipts." 23 

The War Years 205 

Cooler weather came, and the company performed for over 
a month. After these performances, only $80 remained in the 
treasury. This frightened Jouvet; he telegraphed the Haitian 
government, inquiring whether it would be prepared to guaran- 
tee his company the expenses of a tour in Haiti. The govern- 
ment replied that it would. Feeling somewhat relieved, Jouvet 
looked forward to the new season with renewed hope. 

On December 15, the company disembarked at the long, 
narrow dock of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. There it performed 
nightly at the Theatre Rex at Port-au-Prince. The audiences 
were enthusiastic and receptive so much so that Jouvet's 
faith in the future was restored. The President of the Haitian 
Republic, Elie Lescot, informed Jouvet in January, 1944, that 

Our country is not rich, nor am I. I was able to pay the expenses of your 
trip thanks to your support. You generously gave up your box-receipts. 
They are due you. Here they are. 24 

The President handed Jouvet a check for $ 14,000. 

The troupe, now feeling more optimistic, left Haiti for 
Mexico on a freighter which had been put at its disposal by 
the Mexican government. Upon Jouvet's arrival in Mexico 
City, he was pleasantly surprised by the attractiveness of the 
city and its cultural richness and charm. Moreover, he was 
happy to find a large French colony well established in indus- 
try, banking, the restaurant business, bookshops, and with its 
own social clubs. The Mexicans received him in so friendly 
a way that he decided to keep Ms company there for six months. 

However, he did not have long to enjoy this pleasant period. 
One morning, he received word that Giraudoux had passed 
away. This was a terrible shock and loss. His death deprived 
Jouvet of a friend, a collaborator of genius, a gentle and under- 
standing heart. Though almost paralyzed with sorrow, Jouvet 
bad to continue to work, act, and present a brave face to the 
world. The workaday routine must be followed, plans made, 
rehearsals held. Then, suddenly, more difficulties arose; 
when he was about to take his troupe to Martinicpie, two 

206 The Athenee Theatre 

members of the cast Informed him that they were obliged to 
resign from the company to serve in the army. 25 Jouvet took 
the remaining members of the cast to Vera Cruz. From there 
they sailed to Fort-de-France. So after three years end eight 
months, the company again touched French soil, or at least 
the soil of a French colony. Arriving in Guadeloupe on Sep- 
tember 29 they performed there until October 10. After a 
second series of performances at Fort-de-France, the weary and 
homesick actors finally embarked for France on December 13, 
1944 on the Sagittaire. 

When Jouvet arrived at Marseille on February 11, 1945, he 
saw a harbor battered and almost destroyed by aerial bom- 
bardments, but in spite of this he wrote, "When we saw the 
ruined quays of the Old Port, never had France seemed to us 
more stable or more reassuring.** 26 

Jouvet brought back a troupe possessing great skill and 
poise, a group which had served excellently as ambassadors of 
French culture in a foreign land. Many of the actors had 
received cultural enrichment and valuable experience in the 
South American countries. Yet, if one returns to statistics 
(which can sometimes throw light on the human side of a 
situation) it is interesting to note that during the entire tour, 
lasting nearly four years, the company gave only 376 perfor- 
mances, of which fourteen were benefits. This meant fewer 
than 100 performances a year, including matinees. The re- 
hearsals necessitated for these performances numbered 1,077. 
The company had traveled a total of 67,600 miles and had 
performed in fifty-four cities, covering almost all of South 
America, Haiti, and Cuba. Jouvet expressed the opinion that 
the cultural level of the South American peoples was very high. 
They had enjoyed his repertory, showing particular partiality 
for Giraudoux's plays. But the play that most delighted them 
was Claudel's UAnnonce Faite a Marie?* 

Jouvet said that the South American theatres, which were 
modeled after the European, were for the most part well 

The War Years 207 

constructed, practical, and convenient. However, the use of 
decor in these theatres was not always expert and too much 
emphasis was placed on physical equipment. It astonished 
South American directors to note that the French troupe could 
dispense with microphones and other such aids because of the 
clear diction of the French actors and the carrying power of 
their voices. The directors were astonished even more when 
they discovered that Jouvet would not permit his actors to 
perform three times daily, as was apparently the practice in 
some South American countries. This practice, Jouvet said, 
reduced the art of acting to prostitution. 28 

Among the pleasures on his return was the discovery that 
he had not been forgotten by the French people. He was ad- 
mired more than ever because he had the fortitude to resist 
German proselytizing and persecution. Moreover, he had had 
the foresight and courage to take his troupe abroad as an 
ambassador of good will; and though ostensibly sponsored by 
the Vichy government, the troupe represented the heart and 
soul of Free France. It gave to the South American countries 
the best of French art, culture, sympathetic understanding and 
cooperation. Mutual benefits were derived from Jouvet's visit. 
A country needs friends as people and individuals need friends, 
and Jouvet made friends for France in these foreign lands. 29 

He was happy, on his return, to be able to say: "We left 
poor in hope. Here we are back, rich in new friendships, 
bringing back with us, as a consequence of a renewed relation- 
ship, increased prestige for our theatre." 30 

But Jouvet was also a sadder and older man on his return. 
His great friend, Jean Giraudoux, had died and he would al- 
ways feel the void, which no other man would ever fill. There 
were other sorrows: Edouard Bourdet with whom Jouvet had 
been closely linked at the Comedie-Fran^aise had died in the 
aftermath of an automobile accident. Unhappily also, during 
these years marked by so many sorrows and disappointments, 
as well as triumphs, Jouvet suffered in a very personal way 

208 The Athenee Theatre 

when he realized that he was no longer familiar with modern 
theatrical trends in the Parisian theatre, nor acquainted with 
the rising young directors such as Jean-Louis Barrault; perhaps 
he could never be as close to them as he had been to the 
directors of an older day. He realized that he must seize upon 
and use to the best of Ms abilities the fresh opportunities 
offered him in the post-war world. But first of all, he had to 
seek out new young playwrights of ability, further their inter- 
ests in the theatre, and wisely and understandingly help them 
develop their talents, as he had with Giraudoux and others In 
the past. Many had been enriched by all his skills of the 
theatre. Could he now pass these skills on to others? Could 
he succeed In re-establishing himself? It came to him as a shock 
that instead of attracting talents to his orbit since his return, 
he was now looked upon as a "has-been," a man speedily going 
to seed. He intended with all his power to challenge that 
notion. As he himself wrote: 

What we must find again, in the meantime, is what Hue of conduct to 
follow; the survival of our dramatic works is what matters, it is a question 
of continuity. This is our dramatic patrimony, the wealth and glory of 

which are at stake. 31 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 

There are no rules to guide one into the heart of a dramatic 
action and its power to move one no rules for shaping it to its 
interpreters, to an audience, to all the conditions imposed on it 
by locality, space, time, or money no rules for discovering the 
ideas, the feelings, or the sensations which a cue will receive, for 
associating actors and audience in the pleasure of mutual interchange, 
when each provides for and receives the necessary sympathy. 
There are no rules for discovering, in the human truth of a 
dramatic work, its provisional theatrical truth, for adapting it to 
the sensibility of an epoch or of a moment.* 

Jouvet soon came to realize that the years spent abroad had 
actually, despite the acclaim he had received on his return, 
served to make him appear as a man of the past in the French 
theatre. 2 He was not ahle to get hack his theatre until the fall 
of 1945, since the Athenee, then rented, was housing a very 
successful play. In the fall of 1945, installed again at the 
Athenee Theatre, Jouvet followed a hard daily schedule. He 
revived UEcole des Femmes and played to full houses. But 
since the play was a revival of one produced by him in 1936, 
its success did not wholly dissipate the doubts that had arisen 
concerning his ability to direct and pioneer in new plays. 

210 The Athenee Theatre 

Aware of this attitude, Jouvet decided to produce La Folle de 
Chaillot to test Ms abilities and to try to recover the good will 
of the Parisian audiences. 

His co-workers at this period noticed a more than usual 
frenetic anxiety in Jouvet, an almost compulsive urge to labor. 
He often worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day at the Athenee 
and at several motion picture studios. Such exertions resulted 
in extreme hypertension, a condition further complicated by 
his sense of isolation occasioned, in part, by the death of 

His anxiety stemmed in all probability from the fact that 
he was no longer sure of himself. He wavered in his approach 
to a production because he saw so many possibilities in it. 
For example, after he had done a rehearsal scene to his satis- 
faction, he would later have misgivings about his interpretation 
during that same night. In the morning, he would alter the 
entire scene. Jouvet always suffered to some extent from emo- 
tional turnabouts and indecisiveness, but never so much as 
now. 3 His tension, his wavering and sense of insecurity had 
increased to an alarming degree. 

J travel's realization that he was growing old and the fright- 
ening anticipation of his approaching death were added bur- 
dens to his already troubled spirit. Although only fifty-eight 
years old at this time, he was convinced that he had only a 
few years to live. So many of his dearest friends had passed 
away during the last few years that he knew he would soon 
follow them. And, as his dread of death took a stronger hold 
on him, he became increasingly religious, in a very personal, 
mystical sense. At the same time, he was driven more deeply 
into the refuge of the make-believe world, the theatre. 

In 1942, when Jouvet was in Rio de Janeiro, Giraudonx had 
dispatched La Folle de Chaillot to him. On the cover of the 
manuscripts, he had written prophetically : "La Folle de Chail- 
lot was performed for the first time on October 17, 1945 on 
the stage of the Athenee Theatre by Louis Jouvet,*' Despite 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 211 

all his efforts, Jonvet did not have the play ready for pro- 
duction until December 19, 1945, two months and two days- 
after Giraudoux had scheduled it. The reasons for this delay 
were manifold. Giraudonx, whose guidance had been so useful 
to Jouvet in the past, was no longer at his side to make helpful 
suggestions, or to encourage Jouvet to alter, cancel, or request 
additional speeches for the dialogue. When Giraudoux was 
Ms collaborator, both of them discussed the production from 
every angle. Now Jouvet was thrown completely on his own 
resources, and the responsibility for its success or failure was 
wholly his. Jouvet, as always, insisted that the actors evoke 
the text to create the appropriate atmosphere, just as the 
author had intended. If one of the actors failed in his inter- 
pretation or fell short in some way, Jouvet would frequently 
ask the entire cast to reanalyze the text, not cerebrally, but in 
a relaxed mood of receptivity. In this way the actors would 
again have an opportunity to capture, hold, and exteriorize 
the characters they were portraying and bring them to life. 
In the past, Giraudoux inspired the actors by his presence; 
and at the same time, he guided Jouvet in his directing, in a 
subtle, discreet, and indirect way. It was as if there were 
a spiritual communication between them, though no word 
might be spoken. Giraudoux, his arms folded on his chest 
and seemingly detached, was really intensely involved in the 
play and often responded to the actors' dialogues with rhytibmic 
breathing. If the tempo of his breathing was suddenly altered, 
it was a danger signal and Jouvet was immediately aware of it* 
Then, glancing at Giraudoux, he could read the criticisms and 
suggestions in the expression on his face. 

His entire being I felt it was responding physically to the text, with 
pleasure or constraint, according to the occasion, and I, hypocritically, 
followed that light, almost imperceptible breathing, as one keeps one's 
gaze fixed on a machine for testing or measuring, this breathing full or 
brief, broken or undulating, that relieved or restrained breathing, some- 
times suffocating and jerky, sometimes long drawn out, as if to help the 
actor in the amplitude of his direction and to give him strength. 4 

212 The Athenee Theatre 

It was Giraudoux also who had given the actors the proper 
souffle respiratoire 9 the right tone and beat for their lines. 
J oiivet and Giraudoux agreed that the actor's breathing mnst 
"put oneself on a par with the poet who wrote it, by imitating 
his respiration which seeks to identify itself with the breath 
of creation/* 5 

But now these manifold aids were gone and only now, per- 
haps, did Jouvet realize the full extent of his loss. As he sat 
alone in the orchestra watching rehearsals, he often felt a deep, 
aching longing for the past. What if he failed with his first 
new play? What would be the reaction of the critics? And 
the andience? His sense of isolation became even sharper, 
but he was determined not to be disheartened. He threw 
himself into his work with tireless fury. 

Added to his personal struggle was the post-war struggle 
among dissatisfied elements in the city of Paris which he 
observed daily and took very much to heart. Besides, there 
was widespread economic distress. Prices of commodities, even 
of everyday necessities, were high. Inflation had also made 
itself felt in the theatre. Fabrics for costumes were scarce and 
some were unobtainable at any price. In La Folle de Chaillot 
a large outlay was neccessary to costume forty-five actors* The 
treasury lacked sufficient funds for it. Fortunately, the 
Minister of Education, M. Capitant, informed of Jouvet's need 
for over 2,000,000 francs to stage his play, came to his rescue 
with a subsidy. He did this, he said, because Jouvef s pro- 
duction was for the public welfare. 6 But even this generous 
financial aid could not help Jouvet acquire costumes of the 
early twentieth century. One night, when feeling most dis- 
couraged, Jouvet confided his dilemma to a friend who at once 
offered a practical suggestion: advertise for early 1900 dresses 
and accessories. Jouvet did just this. 

I am certain that among your readers, there must be some who have kept 
or at least know some who have kept, in their wardrobes and attics, old 
feminine garments of forty or fifty years ago, from 1895 to 1910; dresses 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 213 

which our mothers and grandmothers wore, taffeta or silk dresses covered 
with laces, baubles, spangles; hats burdened with ostrich feathers and 
stuffed birds, artificial flowers, and stockings adorned with inlaid work, 
handbags, ankle boots, in short, everything which was in fashion at that 
period. Now then, if they would care to send me these things, they would 
be rendering me a great service by helping costume certain actors in 
Giramdonx's play. Naturally, I intend to buy these things. That they may 
be in bad condition is of no consequence, quite the contrary. 7 

The next morning, an astonishingly large number of people 
came to the theatre with bundles of old clothes, jewelry, fans, 
and other such accessories. A countess appeared among them 
with her entire wardrobe. 8 It consisted of fans, silk umbrellas, 
combs, gaudy diadems for evening dress at the opera, petti- 
coats, and garters. Others brought peacock feathers, red, white 
and yellow plumes, fine laces, strange hats, and fancy belts. 9 
Giraudoux, had he been alive, would have been amused by 
this unusual assemblage and perhaps would have used it as 
a theme for a play. 

Actors were soon costumed and rehearsals began. As the 
play took shape, Jouvet was impressed by its scope and truly 
monumental character. Giraudoux had reached his height as 
a playwright with this play, and Jouvet realized anew what 
a blow French culture had suffered by his death. Convinced 
of the play's greatness, Jouvet felt moire confident of its success 
and more sure of himself. It was now as if Giraudoux's spirit 
was on his side to inspire him. Although some deletions or 
alterations had always been made in Giraudoux's text before 
the first night, Jouvet found it unnecessary to change a single 
word in this play. 10 

La Folle de Chaillot probably grew out of a conversation 
which Giraudoux had had with Jouvet several months before 
the outbreak of the Second World War. Jouvet declared that a 
cast consisting mainly of old women would be a boon to a 
director since older actresses, if gifted, had almost always 
profited by their many years of experience. Giraudoux how- 
ever remained indifferent to the suggestion by Jouvet that he 

214 The Athenee Theatre 

work on some such idea. But the memory of the conversation 
lingered, and Jouvet's remarks left a deeper impression on 
Giraudoiax than he had realized. Perhaps just as important 
though was the fact that Giratidoux often came in contact, in 
a neighborhood with its own characteristic madwoman, with 
the Folk du Quad D'Orsay. 11 

Jouvet spared no expense in his effort to engage a cast that 
would do justice to his great work. 12 He succeeded in engaging 
such seasoned artists as Marguerite Moreno for the Madwoman 
of Chaillot, Raynione for the Madwoman of Saint-Sulpice, 
Lueienne Bogaert for the Madwoman of the Concorde, and 
Marguerite Mayane for the Madwoman of Passy. Jouvet 
played the rag-picker, and Monique Melinand, the waitress 

J olivet's application, intelligence, and devotion to the pro- 
duction did not escape the observation of the cast. They 
watched his successful fusing into a vibrant unity the 
seemingly divergent elements of the play: text, music, 13 
acting, mise en scene, and costumes. 14 While rehearsing the 
play, Jouvet realized more than ever that if success were to be 
achieved, the underlying rhythms of the author's text must be 
rendered implicitly. Claudel, Giraudoux, Von Hoffmanstahl, 
and Yeats had pioneered in restoring a poetic language to the 
theatre; by departing subtly from folk rhythms a delicate 
rhythmic music came to the audience in an easy and almost 
relaxed manner. The idea was to understate rather than to 
overstate, to suggest an atmosphere rather than to make it 
explicit. Sonorities were muted. There was much variety 
within a given range. Density of expression was created, 
which gave a deeper tonal significance to the text. No 
showiness or rhetoric, no poetic or elaborate speech was used 
to achieve florid effects. There were no sharp finalities or 
flat lines of demarcation. The impact of the new poetry, 
initiated by Copeau and Gemier in France, was felt by 
forward-looking theatrical directors, some of whom had al- 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 215 

ready realized the necessity of restoring the incantatory 
power to the spoken word and of achieving what Baudelaire 
termed a "correspondance" of thought and emotion. 15 

In speaking the dialogue of Giraudoux's plays, the actors 
had to slow down the verbal pace and muffle the explosive 
consonants until the sound of the words slowly died out. 
By so doing, all the color and emotion inherent in the text 
stood out with a sustained clarity. Jouvet spent many con- 
centrated hours teaching the actors how to achieve these 
effects. They began by scanning the lines; then, giving the 
words their proper tonality and altering the caesuras, they 
would permit the words to fade. By these means, Jouvet 
was able to achieve rhythmic effects which were as complex 
as human feelings themselves. FinaEy, Jouvet could say: 

The work overheats, and melts in the heat of its sensations and senti- 
ments. The obvious has disappeared. The internal life of the work is 
finally released; the play lives, 

Staging is a hirth. 16 

La Folle de Chaillot was in two spectacular acts. Christian 
Berard designed the sets. Act I took place "On Francis' terrace, 
on Alma place,* 5 as Giraudoux had indicated in his stage di- 
rections. However, the sets for Act I were not easily created. 
Berard first made many drawings of terraces which he sub- 
mitted to Jouvet. Jouvet did not reject all of them, but 
Berard himself later realized their inadequacy. One evening 
during dinner with Jouvet, Berard said: "One cannot build a 
real cafe . . . You see, there should be something extraordinary 
about it. It should be the facade of a cafe with windows sus- 
pended from the sky. 9 * 17 After this remark, Berard roughly 
sketched a scene on the paper table cloth. When the sketch 
was completed, Jouvet tore it off, pocketed it, and used it as 
a basis for the set in Act I. 

The cafe stood in the center of the stage. Above it stood an 
apartment house, three stories high with four rows of windows, 
each faced with a filigree railing. Only one window stood open. 

216 The Athenee Theatre 

The building gave the Impression of being suspended from 
the sky. Chairs and tables stood under the canopy and to the 
right was some greenery. The lighting was bright for day- 
light, and the season was spring. 

Act II, however, had a different quality to it. It took place 
in "a cellar turned into an apartment in Chaillot Street. Half 
abandoned." Berard and Jouvet realized that in designing 
guch a set they had to avoid the obvious and never fall into 
the commonplace. 

Berard was obsessed with the idea of creating a semi- 
fantastic setting. To prepare himself for the task, he studied 
the cellars of many of his friends, went to museums, and read 
the architectural treatises of Serlio, Palladio, and Ledoux. But 
in spite of his efforts, he was dissatisfied with his results. 
Finally, lie was so distraught by the failure of his preliminary 
sketches that he drew any sort of set that came into his head. 18 
From these Jouvet selected one, an enormous cube with seven 
doors and painted walls which resembled huge stones. When 
this decor was completed and Berard saw it on the stage, he 
was sorely disappointed. He repainted it twice and removed 
all the doors save one. But he still felt he had not quite hit it. 
In a last-minute flare of inspiration, he did away with the 
remaining vestiges of reality by having the painted stones 
removed. 19 

There were sharp differences between Act I and Act II. In 
Act II, the action took place on a circular stage, and the 
lighting and sets were more subtle, more shadowy. The curtains 
parted on an immense leprous-looking room filled with broken 
pieces of furniture. There were in it a rocking-chair draped 
in black velvet, splintered chandeliers resembling transparent 
stalactites, monstrous plants, a tabouret, a screen, several 
hangings all awry, and a turquoise clothes rack, the last 
lending a more luxurious note in sharp contrast with the 
decaying green mold on the walls. The lighting was so ma- 
nipulated as to produce soft reflections on the moldy walls, 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 217 

which at times made them seem draped In silk. In the center 
of this tremendous cellar, was a huge bed, with a red canopy 
suspended by a wire from the ceiling. In the rear, rather close 
to the ceiling, there were two small barred windows. In this 
cellar, the Madwoman of Chaillot, dressed in a purplish-red 
velvet dressing gown, received the ladies of her court. 

Berard's approach to the creation of the costumes was 
equally feverish and despairingly frustrating. Having looked 
over the old dresses and ornaments given to Jouvet, he set 
to work. In a fit of wild creativity, he tore off a train of one 
dress, a sleeve from another, a veil from a third. He ripped 
the stays from a corset and a taffeta umbrella and tried to fit 
them all together in some sort of costume. 20 

In Act I, the Madwoman of Chaillot wore a tremendous hat, 
with a pigeon on it carrying a letter in its beak. The hat was 
trimmed with flounces. Her dress was bedecked with false 
pearls, jewels, laces, and many other showy trinkets. Her face 
was old and heavily made up with white flour, her eyes were 
circled with charcoal. The effect of so many brilliant reds, 
greens, yellows, and purples on her dress was kaleidoscopic. 
In Act II, the Madwoman of Passy was dressed in white from 
the tips of her plumes to her high-laced boots. The Madwoman 
of Saint-Sulpice was decked out in black. The Madwoman of 
the Concorde, sitting in uncertain balance on an armchair, 
nervously fingered her tawdry finery, the laces and silks which 
had once, long ago, been created by the hmite couture. The 
rest of the characters appeared in less striking colors: whites, 
brown, blacks, yellows, tans, ochres, all blended into the 
scene. 31 

As opening night drew near, Jouvet's anxiety increased since 
his entire future as a director and actor was at stake. His first 
production of a new work since his return from abroad had 
presented him with many grave difficulties to overcome. He 
continued to tremble in the face of the responsibility he had 
accepted. * 

218 The Athenee Theatre 

Many of J olivet's friends and acquaintances could not help 
wondering on that first night of December 19, 1945, whether 
J onvet would have anything new to say. Perhaps Jouvet had 
become repetitious and dull, like Antoine after his initial 
contributions. Many expressed doubt as to his qualifications 
to direct contemporary plays with authority because of his 
long absence from the Parisian scene. Had he still retained 
his suppleness, his verve and enthusiasm? And for many others 
at that first night, Jouvet was but a name. 22 

But Jouvefs fears were allayed when, as the lights dimmed 
and the curtains parted, revealing the facade of the Cafe 
* 4 Chez Francis," the audience burst into a round of applause* 
The decor was a success. Now Jouvet wondered how the play 
itself, his directing and acting would be received. 23 

With trepidation the rag-picker walked on stage. A hushed 
silence filled the house as the audience watched him, about 
to speak his first lines. Tenderly and firmly he began, "I found 
a small view of Budapest in ivory. If it is suitable to you, 
one sees Buda as if one were there.** 24 As he walked about, 
shoulders slightly hunched, his glance turned down in a con- 
stant search for cast-away cigarette butts, his nostrils whiffing 
the smell (perfume to him) of ash cans, the audience was slowly 
caught in the grip of the play. 25 Jouvet felt the rising tension 
on the part of the audience, and he knew then that he had 
recaptured them, that he had never really lost them. The 
play fascinated the audience. The cast was superb, and Jouvet 
was at his best. The critics were enthusiastic, and La Folle de 
Chaillot met with complete success. Jouvet had won perhaps 
the most trying battle of his long career. 

There were many curtain calls that night for Marguerite 
Moreno and Louis Jouvet. When Jouvet bent down to kiss 
his leading lady's hand, he pronounced the author's name, and 
there was another ovation. Jouvet was overwhelmed and 
deeply moved by the loyalty of his friends and the affection 
of the audience. He was, above all, grateful that his work had 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 219 

been appreciated and supremely happy because he had served 
Glraudoux so well. 

The following day, the drama critics' columns were filled 
with laudatory reviews of the production. Georges Huisman 
praised Jouvet and his opinion was echoed and re-echoed 
throughout Paris. Rene Brunschwik lauded him for the care 
he took in making the most of the details in the play. 26 
Jacques Mauchamps wrote that he was "almost suffocated by 
the true greatness of the play." 27 Kleber Haedens was one of 
the very few who reserved judgment, considering the work at 
times good and at other times rather tiresome. 28 Gabriel 
Marcel applauded it; as an afterthought, he wondered how 
La Folle de Chaillot would have fared in the hands of a lesser 
talent than Jouvet. 29 Andre Lang was so impressed that he 

It is a rare moment in the history of our theatre, an evening during which 
everything cooperates to seduce us, give us all the mirages of evasion, with- 
out removing us from reality. I told you, Louis Jouvet is a lover. This is 
the source and the secret of that miracle of equilibrium which is the 
production of La Folle de Chaillot* 

Jouvet had once again recaptured his audiences; the younger 
generation of directors and actors accepted his leadership as 
had his contemporaries. And his contemporaries once again 
realized how gifted Jouvet was and how much integrity and 
devotion he brought to his profession. Thus, his dread of the 
crucial first night, his deep sense of insecurity, his worry lest 
he be passed by, all proved unwarranted and their shadows 
passed like a bad dream on awakening. He was heartened by 
a sense of release from these real and imaginary inimical 
forces. He had not lost his place in the French theatre, he 
was not being passed by, he was not being pitied. 

Despite the outstanding popularity of La Folle de Chaillot, 
Jouvet abruptly terminated the run and, in a letter to Canaille 
Demangeat, he gave his reasons for doing so: 

We took off La Folle de Chaillot while it was still running successfully. 
I do not believe one should exhaust a success, a theatre must not he 

220 The Athenee Theatre 

distorted by a play. And what can one say about an actor who is obliged 

to speak the same sentences and make the same sounds lor a year? What 
does he become? And the theatre In which one always plays the same 
piece? It ceases being an instrument, a 'theatre'. Nevertheless, it pains me 
to take it off, to leave Marguerite Moreno ... for in leaving us, she was 
without a rudder. When she stopped acting, she also stopped living and 
making any effort to live. 31 

Many critics have called Jouvet a classicist because his work 
bore the stamp of clarity, order, and simplicity. There was 
much truth in this. No matter how ambiguous parts of the 
text might be, Jouvet generally succeeded in clarifying the 
underlying intent of the dialogue and presenting the play to 
his audiences in such a way as to produce an intelligible, order- 
ly and highly dramatic production. This was especially true 
of the difficult and complicated monologue in Act I of La 
Wolle de Chaillot. There, with an infinite amount of patience 
and reflection, he succeeded in clarifying the rich and complex 
lines so that they were rendered with passions and great 
tenderness.* 12 He felt this was important because: 

. . . simple and true poetry, lucid poetry, if you wish ; that is to say, tne 
kind that dispenses with the wings of lyricism, but penetrates at once to 
the heart of the listener this sort of poetry is to be found at every period 
and suits all tastes. It requires only various kinds of interpretations and 

changes of color. 33 

It is interesting to reflect that the crystalline purity and 
clarity, characteristic of Jouvefs best productions, usually 
arose out of an initial state of disorder, in which actors and 

directors usually found themselves. Yet in the end, a simple 
and clear structure emerged. As Jouvet wrote: 

A sentence or line in a play is, before all, a state to be attained by the actor, 
by such sensitivity as to make him speak that line with the same plenitude 
with which it was written, as though he himself were creating it. He there- 
by reaches the public by an incomprehensible feeling, where the intelli- 
gence no longer matters. Hie audience then hears the line, not in its 
literal sense, but with the force of creation. 34 

Jouvef s approach to a play could be duplicated only by the 
very talented. It presupposes a highly poetic text and a mature 
and intelligent cast. Central in this approach is the human 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 221 

being, the character. The action flows from one character to 
the other. Everything else is of secondary importance. For 
example, when Giraudonx decided to expand the myth about 
Amphitryon into a drama, the theme itself was not of primary 
importance, but the way it was handled, the style in which it 
was couched, was. 

J onvet drew sustenance from all of the arts, particularly 
from the visual and verbal arts: painting, poetry, and prose. 
It is not generally known that Jouvet was an inveterate reader 
and that he had one of the largest and most varied private 
libraries in the world on drama and related subjects. His 
several thousand books were kept under glass and carefully 
arranged. He would permit no one to withdraw them but 
himself, and he alone had a key to the bookcases. On occasion, 
he would show his rare editions and exquisitely bound books 
to close friends. As he fingered the finely tooled covers and 
turned the pages, he experienced more than pride in the 
possession of these treasures. Jouvet loved to collect books, 
and his library gave him a rare sense of serenity. 33 

Jouvet was saddened to see the French theatre sinking 
deeper into vulgarity, and he found it increasingly difficult 
to hold to his high artistic standards. Commercialism was 
eating into the vitals of the theatre. It always had been an evil 
influence, but now the high cost of producing a play gave it a 
much stronger grip, since only the rich, commercially minded 
people could afford to gamble on its financial success. Jouvet 
fought against this trend. He thought that the world was 
developing a radio and movie mentality. He realized that his 
sort of theatre might succumb to the continuing pressure. 
To keep his standard free of contemporary vulgarity, Jouvet 
felt it necessary to return to the past and try to link it with 
the present. It was paradoxical that Jouvet should believe the 
future of the French theatre could only be assured if it kept 
its roots firmly entrenched in the past, in the classical past. 
It was because Jouvet held so firmly to these high principles 

222 The Athenee Theatre 

that he was asked to assume the presidency of the Societe des 
Historiens de Theatre. In accepting, Jouvet proclaimed that 
the immediate goal of the society would he to facilitate re- 
search into the history of the theatrical arts in France. 36 
Jouvet himself began working on one such research project, 
a history of "dramatic architecture," from its inception to the 
present. He would include his own interpretation of the 
social, dramatic, and philosophical aspects of the different 
schools of theatrical architecture. 

Turning away for a time from these scholarly pursuits and 
from writing articles and delivering lectures on the theatre, 
Jouvet hegan the rehearsals of a play which he had produced 
for the first time in Rio de Janeiro Paul Claudel's UAnnonce 
Waite a Marie. When Claudel heard that Jouvet planned to 
produce Ms play in Paris, he wrote Jouvet the following letter: 

My dear Jouvet, 

With what curiosity I am going to see and hear this Annonce, with the 
new faade you have given it, which you today brought back from the 
remotest regions of the Setting Sun. It is in that play, in one of the 
versions which preceded its definitive form, that the pilgrim Anne Vercors 
had come to entreat the mysterious resources of exile and of absence. 

And now, thanks to you, my dear Jouvet, here it is again, appearing on 
the French stage, under the eyes of a father who is in a state of continual 
imminence, the merciless hand to hand struggle between the two sisters; 
the merciless need of Mara, under an irresistible exigency, to have pre- 
rogative over God, victory over God, power over God, all of which awakens 
in the depths of a devoured being.^ 7 

During the rehearsals, Jouvet taught his actors how to speak 
ClaudeFs very personal dialogue with its Biblical simplicity. 
His cast included a number of actors who had not taken part 
in the South American production. They had to master the 
art of ^breathing the text** with the proper tonal beat, 
measured accents and stately gestures, in order to communicate 
the spirit of the Middle Ages. Jouvet succeeded in creating 
rare combinations of tonalities and rich musical rhythms in 
the dialogue which subtly reflected the complex spirit of men 
in a period long past. By slowing up the pace of the dialogue 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 223 

(in the same manner employed in La Folle de Chaillot) and 
letting the words fade out to make the most of ensuing echoes 
and sudden silences, Jouvet brought out all that was spiritually 
rewarding in this extraordinary play. 

Jouvet played the part of Anne Vercors, a tall and vigorous 
man in his sixties, so religiously ohsessed as to permit no 
earthly ties to stand in the way of salvation as he conceived it. 
Yet it was an imperfect saintliness, imperfect because so much 
egoism was inherent in his ruthless quest for God. 

Jouvet was eminently fitted to play the role: for one thing, 
he himself had always been a dedicated man, and secondly, 
he too had recently turned to religion. For these reasons, he 
could feel all that Anne Vercors felt. In acting the part, 
Jouvet completely identified himself with the hero. During 
the course of his portrayal, by the depth and suggestion of his 
glances, he succeeded in exteriorizing the struggle being waged 
within him. It was a struggle between salvation and loyalty 
to his family. After many years, when he finally returned to 
his family after completing his pilgrimage, he was informed 
that his wife had died and that Violaine (Monique Melinand) 
had been struck down by leprosy and was on the verge of death. 
A deep sorrow numbed him. Looking down, rigid, eyes staring, 
Anne Vercors was a Job -like figure to whom the mysterious 
ways of the Lord had been revealed. 

Jouvet received high critical approval for his performance. 
Claude Hervin was impressed by his authority and the masterly 
manner in which he dominated the ensemble. 38 Robert Kemp 
was impressed by Jouvet's ability to penetrate the darker 
recesses of Anne Vercors 9 soul, a man "Firmly entrenched in 
his convictions, infallible exegesist of events in which he 
always discerns the hand of the Lord, and gushing with 

Jouvet's mse en scene met with equal critical approval. 
Some scenes particularly stood out for their sheer beauty and 
persuasiveness : the departure of Anne Vercors from his family 

224 The Athenee Theatre 

(Act I, scene 3) , the country folks* conversation while awaiting 
the king's passage in the Chevroche forest (Act DDL, scene 2) * 
All of these scenes were simple, effective, and deeply felt. 

The stage sets were appropriate for a play with such medi- 
eval overtones and so many contemporary psychological im- 
plications. The hand-hewn table, on which Anne Vercors 
broke bread with his family and has servants for the last time, 
was fitting. The spotlessly clean walls of the kitchen and the 
crude window frames helped to achieve a proper background 
for a play which was earthy on the one hand, and enriched 
with great spiritual passion and noble intentions on the other. 
These sets recalled the crude but beautifully organic and very 
human woodcuts of the early fifteenth-century Biblical themes. 

For Act II, which takes place in an orchard, the Eghting 
effects created a decidedly religions atmosphere. Act III 
opened the day before Christmas, in a forest where tall denuded 
branches were visible. It was the winter in which so many 
sorrowful events were to occur. But, to lessen the severity of 
the atmosphere, a high sun shone splendidly overhead, tenderly 
touching the tree branches with an aura of warmth. God's 
hand extended over unfortunate man. There was no attempt 
to adorn this stark simplicity, and again one was reminded 
of the same austerity of early woodcuts. 

UAnnonce faite a Marie was such a popular success that 
the Parisians protested its brief run of a week. But Jouvet, 
following a schedule, had decided to rotate it with Knock and 
IfEc&le des Femmes* and he stood his ground. 

Jouvet's next production was Les Bonnes, a one-act play 
by a relatively unknown author, Jean Genet. Les Bonnes is 
a psychological study of the mental illness and morbidity of 
two sisters, Claire (Yvette Etievant) and Solange (Monique 
Melinand) , who work for a demi-mondaine (Yolande Laf f on) 
in Paris. Jean Cocteau was among the first to show an interest 
in Genet's work. When in Marseille, Jouvet met Genet and 
agreed to read Les Bonnes; he was impressed by the script, 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 225 

but told Genet that, in its present form in four acts, it was too 
repetitions and failed to achieve the moment dramatique. 
Genet agreed to revise it. Following Jouvet's suggestions, he 
spent several months in intense work on it. Genet finally 
presented Jonvet with a condensed and highly dramatic one- 
act play. 

At first, J olivet did not seem to find himself at home in 
Les Bonnes. He was uncertain of the correct approach; there 
were several alternatives and he required time to think about 
them. After studying a script, he would consider emphasizing 
one aspect of the play or another; sometimes, it was difficult 
to choose. This lack of a sure sense of direction was extreme 
in Les Bonnes 9 and so the play required three months for 

After much experimenting with the text, Jouvet decided 
that he could best render it by haying the actresses declaim 
their lines, stressing the explosive consonants and breaking up 
the periods of silence with sibilants. The dialogue spoken by 
the sisters was highly charged; by varying the pitch of their 
voices, while emphasizing the strident tonalities, their speeches 
succeeded in conveying pure venom. 

Christian Berard caricatured the "style cocotte" of the early 
1900's in his decor, pointing up the saccharine sweetness and 
sumptuous vulgarity of Madame's bedroom, where the action 
takes place. Heavy drapes hang from the rococo bed; beside 
it hangs a large mirror, in which the characters, as they pass 
before it, see themselves reflected. The rugs are oppressive 
and the curtains stifle the atmosphere. It was a shut-in world, 
much like that created by Sartre in Hius-CZos (No Exit) . The 
dresses, ornate and adorned with flounces, created by Lanvin, 
emphasized the hot-house atmosphere of extravagance, sheer 
folly, and waste. Gabriel Marcel was delighted with the bril- 
liant and subtle evocation of evil, vulgarity, and bad taste in 
body and soul which Berard realized unerringly. 40 

Les Bonnes had a mixed reception. Thierry Maulnier 

226 The Athenee Theatre 

thought the play was revolting in many respects, yet lie re- 
garded it as one of the most remarkable dramatic events of the 
past few years. 41 Without exaggerating the characteristic 
situation, it displayed a troubling knowledge of the evil in the 
human heart. The text was poetic as well as forceful. L'Apol- 
lon de Marsac, Giraudoux's one-act play which Jouvet first pro- 
duced in Rio de Janeiro, was the curtain raiser for Les Bonnes* 
and was enthusiastically received. 42 

With nostalgic memories of Giraudoux, Jouvet brought to 
a close another season. Now, he could give thanks that he had 
been successful in winning back his audiences and arousing 
the enthusiasm, of the critics by his brilliant productions. And 
he could thank Giraudoux (or Fate) for having given him 
the opportunity of producing some of the best plays of his 

After the production of L'Apollon de Marsac, Jouvet in- 
formed Madame Giraudoux that he would like to revive 
Ondine. But when the latter learned that he had refused to 
give Madeleine Ozeray the role of Ondine, which had been 
expressly created for her, she expressed her annoyance with 
him, and it was even rumored that she would refuse permission 
for the revival unless Jouvet complied with her request. How- 
ever, on May 7, 1949, she announced that she looked forward 
to a revival of Ondine, because she and her son, a former 
M.R.P. deputy, could use the royalties derived from it a 
sensible gesture, marred by a tactless remark. 43 

While In the midst of his plans for the new season, Jouvet 
and his company were asked to represent France at the Edin- 
burgh International Festival of Music and Drama. From the 
8th of September, 1947, to the 13th, the company gave perfor- 
mances of UEcole des Femmes and Ondine at the Festival. 
These plays were very favorably recieved. 

Upon his return to Paris, Jouvet continued rehearsals for 
Ms new season and also found time to act in a movie which 
was to become rather popular, Quai des Or/ewes. 44 Jouvet 

Reconquering the Parisian Public 227 

felt spiritually lost in the movie world, and he considered it an 
immature art form. Reporters, who now kept at his heels, 
would frequently ask him such questions as, whether he pre- 
ferred to act in the movies or in the theatre, a question, Jouvet 
said, which was hoth complicated and ahsurd. 45 He always 
held the movies to be a new art form, an off -shoot of the 
theatre. But he would add that the main root, that is, the thea- 
tre, was still very much alive. However, the movies had not yet 
shown that they could survive unsupported and unstimulated 
by the theatre and related arts. 46 

The actor, on stage, has an eminent position Being instrument and instru- 
mentalist, violin and virtuoso, playing by himself and controlling himself, 
being his own music, and holding suspect the echo of this music among 
those people who are watching him, breathing to his rhythm. 47 

Faced with the manifold mysteries of life, its struggles and 
complexities, man invented the theatre to mirror his world. 
For Jouvet, the theatre brought to focus and gave significance 
to all that he had felt and experienced in life, whether in happy 
or sad times. 

Everything is amplified here, awakens questioning, reaches the depth of 
the conscience and the sensitivity, gives a sort of presence, which daily 
life contradicts and extinguishes, a state preliminary to a superior state. 48 

For this reason, the theatre was sheer joy for Jouvet, the 
joy of participating in a world of magic and in acting a strange 
role which became for him another self, the joy of living in 
a perpetual struggle, and the joy of creating. All of this make- 
believe gave Jouvet a better sense of balance, no matter how 
many disappointments humbled him. 

The pleasure of being there, enjoying the spot and the artificial and 
grotesque performances, the preparation of these ceremonies, one should 
discover its causes, its reasons. One should inquire into one's vocation. 49 

The theatre also met man's desire for evasion and his con- 
stant need to resolve his conflicts in a dream. 

This distortion, this vice of the mind and sensitivity, is first a distaste for 
an aspect, for a side of life and of what it consists, a need to turn away 
from it and flee from it. 50 

It was on the stage that Jouvet recaptured the world his 

228 The Athenee Theatre 

grandmother had created for him, a world peopled with 

brigands and pirates, friendly and unfriendly spirits, and vague 
things foreshadowing evil or the course of the mysterious. 
It was in the theatre that his childhood became one with his 
maturity. Here truly the man becomes the child again. As 
Jouvet said: 

I should never fire of talking about It, the marvelous nights, so Brief, 
during which one lives in a state of intoxication which fatigue increases 
in a kind of trance which mounts with your impatience as the moment 
grows closer, and the dread of not having finished... One is a little 
hallucinated, rather drowsy, and if one thinks of that later hour, of its 
exigencies, of the performance, one suddenly falls into an ecstatic state in 
which the play is already seen unfolding hefore one's eyes. 51 

Jouvet and Moliere 

I am speaking to someone for whom I feel affection, whose 
amity I need in order to give me confidence, to encourage me 
to speak out by confiding, to get close to the turmoil within me, to 
the stammering, to reach these ideas. If I have to search for 
these ideas all by myself, without an intermediary, I shall 
never succedJ- 

Many French actors such as Got, Silvain, Worms, Guitry, Co- 
quelin, Copeau, and Dnllin found their highest inspiration in 
the plays of Moliere. They brought to life, with a lusty verve, 
Alceste, Tartuffe, Sganarelle, and Dom Juan. Jouvet's name 
was now to he added to the list. 

Jouvet's return to the classical theatre was due in part to 
his increasing dissatisfaction with the works of contemporary 
playwrights. He pointed out the limiting and rather mechani- 
cal nature of the modem theatre by comparing its stage 
directions with those of the classical theatre. The seventeenth- 
century playwrights wrote very few, if any, stage directions 
in the text, and rarely gave any indication as to how certain 
lines were to be spoken. Whether the actor was to deliver his 

230 The Athenee Theatre 

lines with passion, irony, or anger was left entirely to him. 
When, in Andromaque, Hermione said: "My Lord, with this 
confession devoid of all artifices . . ." Racine felt no need to 
describe Hermione's emotional state at this particular mo- 
ment, since the lines themselves indicated it. This left the 
performer a wider scope for the interpretation of his part, 
unimpeded by any restrictions or qualifications, 2 

The classical writers were also very brief in describing stage 
settings, leaving the director full scope. For Dom Juan, Mo- 
liere simply wrote that the action takes place in Sicily. In 
Measure for Measure, Shakespeare wrote that Vienna was the 
locale. Many modern playwrights, on the other hand, are 
precise and detailed in their description of stage sets. Jonvet 
was inclined to believe this was because they felt the insuf- 
ficiency of their lines which had to be bolstered with sug- 
gestive notations. As an example of the inability of the text 
to suggest the emotions expressed, one can point to Je Vivrai 
un Grand Amour by Steve Passeur. Here one finds the fol- 
lowing descriptions of Claude's character: discretely strange; 
in a repressed rage; wild but disinclined to hurt her; trying 
to humiliate her in order to avenge himself on her perspi- 
cacity. Jouvet found this type of description unnecessary, 
limiting, and verging on the ridiculous. 3 

Although Jouvet had already successfully produced L'Ecole 
des Femmes and, under Copeau's direction, had acted in Le 
Medecin Malgre Lui, Le Misanthrope, JJAvare, La Jalousie 
du Barbouille, Les Fourberies de Scapin, and L* Amour Me- 
decin, he was now determined to produce the two most con- 
troversial of MoHere's plays: Dom Juan and Tartuffe. 

Jouvet was ripe for the attempt. He was at his peak in 
the understanding of Moliere, and his approach to these two 
plays was to be quite different from that of any of his prede- 
cessors. He not only felt a close kinship to Moliere, but also 
a physical identification with Arnolphe and Tartuffe while 
performing in their roles. 4 Jouvet termed this rapport the 

Jouvet and Moliere 231 

surnaturel dramatique. At the moment when the actor, as 

he puts it, 

... is going to fulfill the same function, to perform the same celebration, 
his heart suspended in a state of intoxication, which the rising of the 
curtains intensifies still more, the actor has attained a state of grace. 5 

Moliere's eternally fascinating creations all suffer the de- 
lusions and the conflicts inherent in humanity. There is 
Sganarelle, who imagines himself to be a cuckold ; Argan, who 
believes he is sick; Arnolphe and his fatuous ideas of con- 
jugal perfection; Alceste and his conception of virtue; M. 
Jourdain and Georges Dandin who fancy themselves as gentil- 
hommesi Armande, trying to escape the crude materialism 
of bourgeois society; Orgon, the naiVe; Dom Juan, the atheist 
and seducer. And there are a host of others : malicious valets, 
pompous doctors, outspoken soubrettes, religious hypocrites, 
misers, all conceived in the brain of a playwright who conjured 
up for his audiences a varied, egoistical, embattled world simi* 
lar to their own. 6 

Moliere's characters, unlike Mauriac's for instance, follow 
their spontaneous impulses, exposing their rich store at once, 
of folly, wisdom, ambition, and love and always with high 
spirits. Even the words of caution addressed to Cleante, El- 
mire, Chrysalde, and Dorine cannot prevent them from being 
duped by their extravagant dreams. 

And yet Moliere was fond of his characters; the more power- 
ful their delusions, the more indulgent he was of them. Since 
Moliere so thoroughly understood and so tenderly loved his 
heroes, it was incumbent upon any comedian to approach the 
part in a spirit of sympathy and understanding. 1 

For Moliere, the theatre was an act of love, a way of enter- 
taining and an evasion; above all, it was the art of giving one- 
self. 8 Consequently, his works were "the message, the release 
from an internal condition." Writing for Moliere was "a way 
of fleeing life, of amplifying it even, by mocking it." It was 
also a means of establishing a bond between men, C6 a sym- 

232 The Athenee Theatre 

pathetic and friendly spot; a communion. 9 ' 9 And similarly 
for the actor. The theatre fulfills the need 

the author has of freeing himself of something which obsesses him, which 

he carries within himself; the actor, too, needs t conrnranicate to others 
what he has taken in; and the audience needs to experience something 
which everyday life does not grant them, which in itself is harmless, and 
in which they can participate with all their heart, even with their whole 
body, if one may say so, without feeling any change or alteration. It is an 
exercise without physical effort. 10 

The essence of the theatre is in itself inexplicable; none- 
theless, philosophers have often attempted to explain it. For 
more than a century before Jouvet's time, scholars and men 
of the theatre had discussed the validity of Diderot's Para" 
doxe sur le Comedien. Diderot argued that an actor must 
necessarily be a dual personality; further, that great actors 
dominate their emotions when acting, whereas the lesser ones 
do not, and the very sensitive ones permit themselves to be 
submerged by them. But a dualism, Jouvet wrote, exists in 
all men; therefore Diderot's paradox is pointless and merely 
adds confusion to the matter instead of clarifying it. "Would 
to heaven that Diderot, abandoning his theories and Ms sen- 
timentality, had himself experienced the duality necessary 
and natural to an author when he wrote Ms plays." u 

The theatre Eves only during the unfolding of the action 
and during those rare moments dramatique. Had Diderot 
and others before him, such as Aristotle, been sufficiently 
receptive during a performance to lose themselves in the ac- 
tion, their philosophy would have been less arbitrary, less 
pretentious. Neither author, actor, nor even the audience is 
in a position to analyze a play during its unfolding. In order 
to effect a real communion, one must lose one's conscious 
self in the drama and gain in this profound experience a 
sense of being more than an isolated person. This is almost 
a religious act wMch the drama fortifies. To <juote Kim- 
baud: when this emotion is experienced, the ** T is an- 
other." Since all that precedes or follows the moment drama* 

Jouvet and Moliere 233 

tique is not theatre, and since the emotional involvement in 
the dramatic act permits no objective analysis, the conclu- 
sions arrived at by philosophers are generally found to be 
wanting. The cerebral act of analysis excludes them from 

The mysterious nature of the dramatic act presented such 
a challenge to Jouvet that often, while directing a play, he 
tried to analyze objectively the emotions which the text 
aroused; but as soon as he resorted to reflection, he was no 
longer fully swept up in the action and no longer sufficiently 
receptive to experience the communion; therefore Ms analysis 
was futile. "Here anything which has to do with the senses 
must be closely examined by the mind, and the mind, in this 
case, cannot dispense with the sensations and the body." 12 

When a sensitive spectator is absorbed by the conflicts of 
a living phantom, "that struts and frets his hour upon the 
stage", he identifies himself with one or more of them, and 
for him they mirror his personality as it is, as it might be, 
or as it should be. During the period of the identification, 
he amplifies, in an ideal sense, his most personal dreams. In 
Moliere's case, the characters are so fully drawn and so many 
sided, that they may undergo different interpretations by 
directors and still remain essentially themselves. 

Balzac, for example, had a passion for the theatre which 
pursued him during his entire life; but he failed completely 
to become the second Moliere he had hoped to be. 13 After 
having finished Eugenie Grandet, he wrote to Mme Hanska 
saying, "Moliere created avarices but I made a miser of old 
Grandet." 14 The novelist creates and sustains a character with 
many attendant explanations and descriptions. In the theatre, 
however, the phantom must walk alone, presenting himself as 
he is in his speeches and behavior. The drama derives from 
the dialogue itself, without commentary. Certainly, many of 
Balzac's novels, such as La Rabouilleuse or Le Colonel Chabert 
were successfully dramatized, but two hundred novels could 

234 The Athenee Theatre 

be derived from Racine's Andromaque or Phedre. Why is this 
the case? Because the novelist's creations are limited, un- 
changeable, and they lack the mobility and infinite variety 
which a Tartuffe or Dom Juan possesses. When an imaginative 
actor interprets one of Moliere's characters, he may portray 
him in one of several aspects, depending on what essentials 
he wants to seize on and bring into relief. He can, without 
altering a line, accompany Harpagon's monologue in IfAvare 
with tears, grimaces, sobs, and many varying gestures; or he 
may take quite another approach without tears or grimaces. 
But Balzac's description of old Grandet, with its abundance of 
detail, while extraordinary indeed, eternally fixes that charac- 
ter; in this sense, then, it is limited and inflexible. 

In the theatre nothing is fixed; all is in a constant flow. 
Even the mechanical and technical aids often undergo change 
with each new interpretation. Time and epochs change; so 
do moods, fashions, and the like; thus the sentiments evoked 
by certain words and phrases with which the playwright 
endows his characters may be somewhat foreign to the next 
generation. Nothing ever remains the same, and the play dies 
to be reborn again in a different guise to satisfy the taste of 
each generation. 15 We might call the art of acting, Jouvet 
remarked, the art of translating words into sensations. And 
although each generation may feel that it has solved the 
enigma which Moliere's plays present to directors, it was Jou- 
vet's opinion that his plays remain today as impenetrable, 
as vivid, and as varied as nature itself. "Impenetrable, irre- 
ducible, they retain their perpetual virtue of solicitation, of 
meditation and of diversion for the human mind." 16 

Because Moliere was rich and satisfying in so many ways, 
and so broad in his scope and understanding, Jouvet was at- 
tracted to him more than ever. With a spirit of curiosity, of 
kinship as well as of love, Jouvet set out to create, on Decem- 
ber 24, 1947, a totally new and original Dom Juan. 

When the play was first produced in 1665, Moliere per- 

Jouvet and Moliere 235 

formed the role of Sganarelle, and Lagrange that of Dom Juan. 
However, soon after the premieres, further performances of 
the play had to be abandoned because of objections by the 
Church. Four years after Moliere's death, the fashionable poet, 
Thomas Corneille, who paid fifty livres for the rights to the 
play, turned the dialogue into verse. This new adaptation was 
performed until 1847. So, for almost two centuries, this version 
was the only one audiences ever saw. The Comedie-Frangaise, 
which had produced the play over 500 times from 1677 to 
1847, never revealed any curiosity about the original Dom 
Juan, or manifested any desire to produce it. 

In 1841, Robert Kemp, actor and codirector of the Odeon, 
was the first to show any interest in Moliere's version of Dom 
Juan. But six years passed before his dream of reviving it 
could be fulfilled. On the 15th of January 1847, the sixteenth 
performance of this seventeenth-century play was given, 182 
years after its inception. Now, strange as it may seem, from 
this time until 1947, Dom Juan had been performed only 
100 times, whereas Tartuffe had been performed over 2,500 
times. 17 

Jouvet, haunted many years by the character of Dom Juan, 18 
felt he could offer an interesting and highly original inter- 
pretation of it. But, as he wrote, 

It is hard to judge a play which has possessed you for a long time and in 
which one lives, hard to tell what sensations touch upon the interpreter. 19 

He had confided his conception of Dom Juan to Christian 
Berard, and for years the two had often discussed various me- 
thods of approach. 20 Seemingly, Jouvet was going counter to 
his own principles in pushing his analysis of the play too 
far, and therefore, according to his own confession, he failed 
to penetrate the character. Only after he had abandoned the 
sterile intellectual approach in favor of the intuitive, per- 
mitting his sensations to guide him, could he understand the 
whole of Dom Juan's personality in all its complexities, and 
penetrate his soul; then a coherent, rounded personality pre- 

236 The Athenee Theatre 

sented itself, with all the nuances of a Velasquez painting. 

J onvet maintained that Dam Juan was not the author's con- 
fession, nor was it a psychological study of a seducer or of 
an atheist. What interested him in Dom Juan was not merely 
the caractere of the play, but the dramatic action taken as a 
whole. The characters were subordinate to this unified con- 
ception, and the play was not a vehicle for the exploitation 
of any one character. 21 

When Jouvet decided to produce Dom Juan, he made up 
his mind to dissociate the drama from all the old traditional 
romantic appendages, the balmy moonlight nights, the sighs 
and tears and the tenderness of the hero which generations 
of audiences had witnessed. More boldly, Jouvet stated that 
Moliere's Dom Juan was a seducer who had seduced no one. 22 

To bring out the seductive nature of Dom Juan, he declared 
that two scenes would suffice. And even those two scenes do 
not offer proof of the hero's persuasive charms, since the 
peasant girls he conquers, Mathurine and Charlotte, have 
already been impressed by such unromantic features as his 
wealth and nobility before they have even set eyes on him. 

For Jouvet, Dom Juan is a troubled man vis-a-vis his desti- 
ny; he is an adventurer who has broken all the rules and 
taken all the chances, even the supreme risk of tempting God 
and fate. 23 When Jouvet walked on stage in his black tights 
on that first night, he looked sombre, enigmatic, haunted and 
yet endowed with a compelling sensuousness. But the sen- 
suousness was not the side Jouvet wanted particularly to stress. 
Dom Juan was no longer the man coveted by women, but a 
man who walked alone, too independent and corrosively in- 
telligent to submit to the dictates of either God or man, except 
toward the end, when God deals out a horrible punishment 
to him. 24 

Jouvet's Dom Juan hated the social hypocrisies of his con- 
temporaries; but he was haughty in his revolt against them, 
and thereby he cast out good with evil, faith with bigotry, 

Jouvet and Moliere 237 

true morals with false, Elvire with love which enchains. Yet, 
when face to face with the Commander and confronted with 
an agonizing death, he revealed his weaknesses; he was a trap- 
ped and timorous fellow at bottom. 

J onvet played his hero with an underlying anxiety that would 
have hefitted a deeply religions hero. He was convinced that 
Dom Juan was actually a believer in God; but certain painful 
situations in Ms youth, obscure in source, had provoked a 
rebellion against God and man; that was why he constantly 
denied the existence of a deity. Had Dom Juan been a true 
atheist, Jouvet maintained, he would not have constantly 
denied a God who did not exist, nor taken the trouble to 
frighten his valet Sganarelle by defying the Commander, nor 
would he have behaved cynically when Dona Elvire warned 
him of his imminent death. 25 He was not denying God, but 
running away from him. This approach to Bom Juan was 
complex, modern, and, one might say, psychoanalytical. To 
portray the deeply troubled man, Jouvet made expert use 
of facial expressions. Hjjg glaring aquamarine eyes constantly 
changed in expression, reflecting, at times, the haughtiness 
of a Spanish nobleman, and at others, the fear of a hunted man 
filled with doubt and groping for the tangible, constantly 
angered by the pettiness of life, and frightened by his own 
impotency. As Francis Ambriere stated: "So intimate a union 
between the actor and his part is a phenomenon rarely ob- 
served in each generation." 26 

In Act III, when Jouvet- Juan met his angry father, he spoke 
with restraint, though seething within, and wore an air of 
boredom and subtle insolence. 27 When M. Dimanche, the debt- 
collector, and the abandoned wife, Dona Elvire, arrived, he 
greeted them with an icy calm which made more obvious his 
profound annoyance and impatience. His implacable looks as 
he took slow circulatory steps around Elvire, his derisive laughs 
in the beggar and peasant scenes (Act III, scene 2, and Act II, 
scene 4), and all his mannerisms served to dramatize the 

238 The Athenee Theatre 

struggle going on, under the cover of his poses, between his 
several conflicting selves. 

Juan is satanic, sadistic almost, in proclaiming his independ- 
ence from all ties. He is vainglorious in self-approbation. He 
is sovereign and unrestrained in the presence of Charlotte and 
Mathurine, but disdainful in Sganarelle's presence. But when 
confronted "by supernatural forces, as in Act V, he readily 
realizes his own weaknesses and Ms essential powerlessness. 
There is a perceptible tremor in his voice, timidity in Ms 
gestures, a trembling of the hand. Juan reveals himself to be 
basically a very frightened man. Madame Dussane voiced her 
astonishment in this new portrayal of Dom Juan, for it was 
unexpected. And yet, 

If Bon Jttan trembled it is because be wished him to, or that he felt him 

trembling . . . 
"Will it please Ms lucidity some day to unravel that enigma... and 

reveal to us its secret* 28 

This conception of Dom Juan was derived from several sour- 
ces: first of all from Jouvet's knowledge of humanity (had not 
Jouvet been a man of such broad and varied experiences with 
a penetrating psychological curiosity, he might have failed to 
probe as deeply as he did into Moliere's text) ; secondly, from 
a religious experience. During the Second World War, when 
Jouvet was far from home, he came upon the complete works 
of Saint Frangois de Sales. He was deeply absorbed and fasci- 
nated by I? Introduction a la Vie Devote which, in his opinion, 
was one of the greatest of French books. Moreover, when he 
reread Dom Juan* it dawned on him that Moliere had written 
the role of Elvire in the same spirit in which the Introduction 
a la Vie Devote had been written. He was so moved by this 
similarity that he said : "I am haunted by it each time I think 
of it." 29 

During the post-war period, Jouvet also read Saint Augus- 
tine, Saint Teresa, and several other religious works; the spi- 
ritual penetrated every comer of bis being. It was not the 

Jouvet and Moliere 239 

religion his mother had taught him, nor strictly the official 
religion; but it had elements of both, born of a great need, 
the need for roots, guidance, and an established security. He 
could no longer recapture the carefree days of his youth, or 
the insouciance which had accompanied him up to a certain 
point. The weight and sorrows of the world were upon him. 
Jouvet's new conception of Dom Juan was in large measure 
derived from his own experiences; he, too, was now a very 
frightened man. 

Jouvet's preoccupation with religion took the form of doing 
good deeds. He would go out of his way to help people, friends, 
acquaintances and strangers. As busy as he was, he tried to 
help everyone who pleaded for his aid. The members of his 
cast observed the change in him to a self-effacing, generous 
man, reaching out wherever he went toward those who needed 

Francis Ambriere wrote that the riddle of Dom Juan's per- 
sonality, which had puzzled so many throughout the centuries, 
had finally been solved by Jouvet. 30 Gabriel Marcel noted a 
remarkable change of pace and a variety of moods in Jouvet's 
acting throughout the play. Scene 3 of Act IV with M. Di- 
manche, fell into the frame of farce; Juan's growing rebellion 
toward God and man in Act V was straight drama. 31 And when 
the flames of damnation surged forth and enveloped the hero, 
his agonizing cry was not that of an atheist but that of an 
anguished and tormented being; and this was pure tragedy. 
Gabriel Marcel added: 

One could, to tell the truth, split hairs on the question of knowing whether 
he was the ideal interpreter for the part of Don Juan, and I shall say 
frankly, that I do not think so. But he played the part with intelligence, 
and at the end, even, with uncommon power; and one can say that on the 
whole, the spirit which inspired his interpretation is excellent. He took, 
indeed, a position quite the opposite of all romanticism, and this is cer- 
tainly what was needed. 32 

Jouvet also made the decision as to which sort of costumes 
he would wear. He requested the designer to play up the 

240 The Athenee Theatre 

Spanish element, which is so foreign to French audiences. 
Consequently, the traditional wig, laces, flounces, and high 
heels of a seventeenth-century nobleman were discarded. 33 
Jouvet wore only two costumes. The first was a pair of snug- 
fitting black tights, black boots, and a black jacket with puf- 
fed sleeves. The costume also had frilly cuffs and a heavily 
starched white collar. He wore a gold-linked chain around 
his neck, and he appeared sometimes wearing a large, high 
black hat. In this costume he was a dashing figure, and he 
made good use of his long, shapely legs and his tall figure as 
Leloir had done before him. The second costume was even 
more splendid than the first. His tights and his jacket with 
its balloon sleeves were white with black spots; his boots 
black; his cape white in some scenes, in others black. 

When Jouvet decided to produce Dom Juan he was faced 
with several difficult technical questions. 34 For example, 
there was the problem of the stone statue of the Commander 
which walks, talks, and nods its head. In Act IV, scene 8, the 
Commander sits down at the table with Juan; in Act V, scene 6, 
he takes Juan's hand and as Moliere indicated: "A loud clap 
of thunder and a great splash of lightening struck Dom Juan; 
the earth opens and then an abyss; and great flames issue forth 
from the spot where he fell." 35 

Moliere's stage indications were rather difficult to cany 
out. In the seventeenth century, the stage of the Palais Royal 
was illuminated by approximately a hundred candles, so the 
use of a trapdoor went unnoticed by the audience. In the semi- 
darkness, the marvelous and mysterious could be pointed up 
and imagined, thus making the job of the stage director easier. 
But the stage in Jouvet's time had an illumination five hundred 
times as bright. 

The second difficulty was of another sort. When Sganarelle 
utters the final words after Juan's death, "Oh! my wages! 
My wages!" 36 they are to be spoken in a comic tone of voice. 
But his master had just died, so how could Sganarelle be so 

Jouvet and Moliere 241 

jolly about it? Jouvet and Berard discussed this at length and 
at first Jouvet thought that perhaps Sganarelle could make his 
speech as in a trance. But Berard thought this would be in 
very poor taste. The second suggestion was to wait a brief 
period after Juan's death; then have Sganarelle visit his mas- 
ter's tomb and speak his lines. 37 Thus, for Act V, scene 6, the 
audience heard Juan's piercing cry as he was being devoured 
by the flames, immediately after which the curtain came down, 
only to rise one hundred seconds later. Sganarelle then ap- 
peared, stood in front of his master's tomb, and piously placed 
a wreath of flowers at the foot of it, whereafter he spoke the 
last lines with tolerant and amused irony. 38 

There were many who believed this solution to the problem 
to be completely distasteful. Francis Ambriere felt that this 
tacked on conclusion and the "modern style" wreath of flowers, 
which Sganarelle placed at the foot of his master's tomb, was 
indeed grotesque. 39 Paul Gaillard was so taken aback by it 
that he wrote that such theatrical manipulations were worthy 
of a Gaston Baty and not of Jouvet. 40 

What many failed to appreciate in this production was the 
expressive and fresh rhythm in which the dialogue was spoken. 
In Act I, for example, Jouvet delivered his tirade on love in a 
quick and sing-song manner. Gabriel Marcel felt that he should 
have spoken in a slower, more voluptuous, and insinuating 
manner. But upon reflection, he realized that Jouvet had 
been correct in his approach, since Sganarelle, after hearing 
his master speak, said: "Bless me, now you gabble. It seems 
to me that you learned that by heart and you speak exactly 
like a book." 41 

The tempo of the play should be very rapid, Jouvet main- 
tained. It was just this extreme elasticity of the production, 
this incomparable brio, which vitalized the performance and 
distinguished it from its predecessors. 42 

But more important than anything else, in J olivet's opinion, 
was the maintenance of a continuity of action in a unified 

242 The Athenee Theatre 

framework. Moreover, the marvelous and the unbelievable 
elements in the play, which Jouvet underscored, had to be 
made credible. He felt that the productions of his predeces- 
sors were actually flagrant betrayals of Moliere's intentions, 
for "In the director's profession, what is most difficult is to 
forget aE of this, to attack a play with an open mind and not 
to know everything that was said and written about it." 43 
Jouvet gave the play a dramatic unity. 

The decors, created by Berard, again proved his worth and 
won the hearty approval of the critics. The fixed set consisted 
of a three-story arcaded structure which looked like the nave 
of a church. By the clever placing of objects in front of and 
behind these arcades, Jonvet achieved the atmosphere called 
for by Moliere. 

For Act I, Berard placed boats, water, and sundry other ob- 
jects behind the arcades. The bright lights shining on the 
blue background of the sky, as seen through the arcades, 
situated not only the scene, but the season as well. Act III 
represented a forest. Four large trees stood in front of the 
fixed set, and several in the rear of it. In addition, Spanish 
moss was gracefully draped from the top of the stage. Act IV 
took place in Juan's luxurious apartment. To lend this scene 
enchantment, Berard placed candlesticks, each holding five 
candles, on the second and third stories of the arcades. The 
open areas of the arcades were now filled in with black. On 
the stage itself a framework of doors had teen built, covered 
over with heavy and colorful drapes, thus lending a note 
of luxury. During the dinner scene in Act IV, a table stood 
in the center of the stage and the drapes in the rear were 
drawn. Act V took place in the country. After the hero had 
died, his tomb appeared in the center of a stage lit by chande- 
liers. 44 

The colors were as effective as the architectural design. 
The grays, blacks, dark greens, blues, chrome colors, mother 
of pearl, and the beige, gave an unusually varied and luxurious 

Jouvet and Moliere 243 

tone to the scene. Jouvet said of Berard, "I hardly know any 
dramatist who is his equal and who is, by virtue of his spectacu- 
lar secrets of theatrical creation, more intimately approaching 
Moliere." 45 
Francis Ambriere wrote of the production as a whole: 

Not one of Ms plays impressed me, at this point, with its effectiveness as 
dramatic art, considered as a means of expressing the highest human anx- 
ieties. By finally hreathing life into Moliere's masterpiece, after waiting 
almost three centuries, Louis Jouvet gave us something close to a master- 
piece as actor and director. 46 

Dom Juan was still attracting large audiences when Jouvet 
decided to terminate its run and set out on another strenuous 
tour. He was sponsored by the French Cultural Services and 
by the foreign countries he visited. An odd incident occurred 
in Egypt. 47 The Egyptian press suddenly burst out with charges 
that Jouvet was an enemy of their people. The reason? Doctor 
Ycouv Khouri, delegate to Paris for the High Arab Commis- 
sion, had accused Jouvet of being a member of a most dan- 
gerous Zionist group. The newspaper, Al Ikhwan al Mousle- 
Tnin> published a similar statement and a second newspaper, 
Al Kolta, informed its readers that Jouvet was also a member 
of an association sworn to free Palestine. The newspapers 
also voiced their disapproval of the Egyptian government for 
harboring so dangerous a man. 48 Jouvet, who had always re- 
frained from joining any political organization, was astounded 
by these accusations and replied to the press as follows : "My 
troupe includes only French Catholics!" 49 No one seemed to 
know from what source these completely unfounded rumors 
had arisen. They attest perhaps to people's jittery and easily 
inflamed state of mind. But in due time the rumors died 
down and the accusations ceased. 

On May I, Jouvet and his company arrived in Italy. In 
Florence, in Venice, and in Milan, they again played to en- 
thusiastic audiences. From Italy they went to Strasbourg and 
then to Poland, performing in Warsaw and in Cracow. In 
Poland, Jouvet and Renoir both commented on the ideological 

244 The Athenee Theatre 

trends of its theatre, which dealt with social aspects of the 
contemporary scene. 50 In Czechoslovakia they performed in 
three cities: Moravia-Ostrava, Bratislava, and Prague. They 
were delighted to discover that the Czechs were interested in 
the foreign theatre. In Bratislava, Jouvet, accompanied by 
Renoir, went to a performance of UEcole des Femmes pro- 
duced by a young theatrical director. The following evening, 
the Czech came to see the French version. After the per- 
formance, he said to Jouvet: "Thanks to yon, tonight Moliere 
gave us, at the same time, both The School for Wives and the 
school for actors." 51 

They played in Vienna, Munich, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and 
Baden-Baden, and, on June 25, returned to Paris. The toux 
had lasted three and a half months. Jouvet was pleased be- 

The enthusiastic reception which was accorded us everywhere proves not 
only the merits of the actors, but, even more, the avidity of the audiences 
for everything which is theatre, and ow theatre, as well as the quality of 
the merchandise, if I may venture to say so, which we give them. We have 
been struck, moreover, in those countries distracted by anxieties and new 
ideologies, by the loyalty to French dramatic literature. After a lapse in 
theatrical productions which lasted during the entire Occupation, some 
peoples are building new theatres in the destroyed cities with courageous 
haste. And French plays are being given almost everywhere. 52 

Shortly after his return, Jouvet began directing Les Four- 
beries de Scapin for the Jean-Louis Barrault company at the 
Theatre Marigny. As may be recalled, Jouvet had played 
the part of Geronte in 1917, in Copeau's production of the 
play at the Vieux-Colombier. This time, however, Jouvet 
directed the play and did not act in it. 

In Jouvet's opinion, Les Fourberies de Scapin resembled a 
Bach fugue, so perfectly was it integrated. For this reason, 
perhaps, it was one of the most difficult of Moliere's plays 
to produce. Each detail had to be fitted into the others, as 
the play unfolded, and a strict unity had to be preserved 
throughout. 53 When Stanislavsky produced Les Fourberies de 
Scapin his scene was solid and naturalistic: cargo boats lay at 

Jouvet and Moliere 245 

anchor and on the dock lay many stacks of flowers. Jouvet 
felt that this sort of realism could no longer be effective in 
suggesting all of the implications of the play as he saw them. 

Jouvet conceived Scapin to be a lazy but comic knave, who, 
armed with many startling tricks, finally carried them too 
far, and was caught in his own snares. He strove to bring 
into bold relief the joyous quality inherent in the text, and 
he speeded up the pace with a somewhat staccato rhythm to 
give the comedy a light and spirited action. 54 

Berard had been so successful in designing appropriate sets 
for the other Moliere productions that Jouvet again called 
upon him to design the sets Les Fourberies de Scapin. Berard 
used a fixed decor on which the acting could take place on 
several different planes. His greenish-gray set, touched with 
red, yellow, blue, and black, was a somewhat bridge-like struc- 
ture, with a center underpass and stairs on either side. 

As the curtains parted on this muted decor, the stage sud- 
denly filled with lights, and Scapin burst on stage spinning, 
bouncing, gliding, leaping, as would have done an actor of the 
commedia delFarte. As Raymond Cogniat wrote : "Louis Jou- 
vet so well understood the close relationship of this conven- 
tion, that the intermissions were replaced by short divertise- 
ments, half mimed and half danced." 55 

Pierre Brisson, however, indulged in adverse criticism: 

The play unf olds on small platforms, from which one descends with snappy 
steps and sliding on ramps. Scapin, provided with a window washer's lad- 
der, indulges in aerial gymnastics. Acrobats intervene, doing turns to the 
tune of dance-hall music ... It is completely devoid of significance. 56 

After reading Brisson's review, Jouvet promptly replied to it. 

I like your love for the theatre, I like your partiality and your indig- 
nation. Since Barbey d'Aurevilly, criticism had lost this angry vehemence, 
this irascible spirit, and virulent lyricism which anathematizes, damns, 
condemns, or strikes down the poor mountebanks that we are. I thank you 
and congratulate you. Your enthusiasm has always delighted me . . . 

. . . Permit me then to tell you, in all modesty and simplicity, that we do 
not agree. 

The virtue of great works is to leave us insatiable. You prove this to us. 

246 The Athenee Theatre 

Les Fourberies de Scapin leaves yon famished. Jean-Louis Barranlt joins 
me in expressing our gratitude. "We would have been grieved to have sur- 
feited you . . . 

I would have Been disturbed if, to justify the extremity of your sorrow, 
you did not give us a precise picture of the way Les Fourberies de Scapin 
should be performed, according to your conception. 

We, the people of the stage and boards, we don't have any conceptions. 
This is the difference which separates us, and which puts ns in opposition 
to each other. 

For my part, I had no conception, no picture of the play until the curtain 
rose on opening night at the Marigny. And now it is too late, irremediably 
too late ; this is the sad side of criticism, there is criticism only afterwards. 

A classical play, my dear Pierre, has become for me today after many 
years of work of practice, a fascinating experience. It is hard and difficult 
to achieve this result. It demands great patience, a long "purgation". 

It is best to wait for the play to enlighten itself, withont recourse to any 
other information, other than its dialogue and lines. 57 

J ouvet maintained that his production was not cerebral in 
tone; on the contrary, snch a conception would have gone 
counter to Ms aesthetic principles. He approached a play by 
way of his sensations and let the text slowly enter his blood 
until it was part of him. "The actor resembles a potter who 
models clay and whose sensibility is like a current at the tips 
of his fingers." 58 

About this time, more sorrows were to be added to Jouvet's 
already long list; several of Jouvet's closest associates passed 
away, one after another. During a rehearsal of Les Fourberies 
de Scapin, just six days before opening night, Berard suf- 
fered a cerebral hemorrhage and died in Jouvet's arms. His 
death broke one of the last links with Jouvet's early days, 
the days of Ms first trials and successes. Berard's death af- 
fected him in such a way as to drive him still more into him- 
self, and into religious meditation. When inactive, he suf- 
fered periods of depression and dread of what the future might 
bring. His sorrows drove Jouvet into increasingly feverish 
activity. He set to work on a new production of Tartuffe. 
It was to be a very personal Tartuffe as Dom Juan had been; 
for, once again, Jouvet sought to identify himself with a con- 
troversial character, seeing himself in it, for good or evil 

J ouvet and Moliere 247 

The role of Tartnffe had been Interpreted in various ways, 
but in genera], it may be said that he was presented as a red- 
faced, fat, and sensuous man. 

Stout, fat, fair, rosy-lipped . . . 
He supped alone, before her, 
And unctuously ate up two partridges, 
As well as half a leg o'mutton, deviled. 60 

Jouvet's Tartnffe was to be entirely different He was a tall 
and stately man, pale and thin, thoughtful, cold, calm, and 
well-mannered. He was self -controlled, self -aware. Jouvet 
studied his every gesture in building up the character, and 
projected himself into the role so completely that he in fact 
lost himself in the part. 

Jouvet thought of Tartuffe as an attractive man, for if not, 
he argued, would the rich bourgeois, Orgon, have taken him 
into his home? Moreover, if Tartuffe had been a dirty, ugly 
fellow, would Elmire have been affected by him, flattered by 
his attentions? Jouvet maintained that Tartuffe had his solid 
good side. There are no lines in Moliere's text to expose him 
as an impostor. His evil was never premeditated. He con- 
fessed his moral misery to Orgon after having been surprised 
by Damis in Act HE while trying to make love to Elmire. For 
instance, Tartuffe says: 

Alas! and though all men believe me godly, 
The simple truth is, I'm worthless creature. 61 

It is significant that Orgon and not Tartuffe drove Damis from 
home, and that after Damis 9 departure, Tartuffe said that he 
was never going to see Elmire again; whereupon Orgon said: 
"No, You shall be seen together at all hours." ^ 
Convinced that Tartuffe had been wronged by his family, 
Orgon said: 

111 go and make a deed of gift to you 
Drawn in due form, of all my property. 63 

The problem of Tartuffe's character, as Jouvet saw it, was not 
whether or not he was sincere or a hypocrite, 

...not to question, not to judge let Tartuffe and the other characters 
have their responsibilities, their own life, their secret, let them "act" in 

248 The Athenee Theatre 

all innocence, without premeditation. Tartnffe would be a play for the 
Giiignol theatre, if from the moment he appeared, he were either by the 
actor who is playing him or the audience who is hearing him already 
marked as a monster. 64 

When asked to elaborate Ms conception of Tartuffe, Jouvet 

I do not have any ideas about Tartnffe. I do not know why the question 
was raised of knowing whether he was a man of the world. Others dressed 
him, in a priest's garb, Lncien Gnitry gave him an Auvergnat accent . . . 
Moliere had the Congregation in view... I tried to make him live. 65 

There were two scenes in Jouvet's production which par- 
ticularly disturbed the critics: scene 3 of Act III and scene 5 
of Act IV. According to tradition, Tartuffe, when making 
advances to Elmire, tickled her leg constantly. Jouvet de- 
risively called that "une tradition" and dispensed with it. Jou- 
vet's behavior when alone with Elmire was not sensual, but dig- 
nified, and obviously fascinated by Ehnire, he spoke his lines 
with a subtle, seductive charm. His expressive mouth and 
glowing eyes revealed his desire to possess her. This was ex- 
cellent miming, and Jouvet's portrayal seemed all the boldez 
and more convincing because of its subtlety and restraint. 

In scene 5 of Act IV, Ehnire asked her husband to hide under 
the table and overhear Tartuffe making love to her. It was 
customary in the past to reveal Tartuffe's intentions to pos- 
sess her at this point. But as interpreted by Jouvet, Tartuffe 
entered the room dressed in ecclesiastical garb with an air 
of restraint; he glanced searchingly at Ehnire. His eyes par- 
ticularly revealed the battle going on within him between pas- 
sion and his determination to control himself so as not to 
betray his benefactor. He played the entire scene at a distance 
from Elmire. She had placed a chair between them and this 
was sufficient to deter Tartuffe. 

Jean-Jacques Gautier felt that Jouvefs interpretation was 
cerebral and so lacked the spontaneity necessary to be ef- 
fective. 60 Jacques Lemarchand felt that everything was too 
well regulated in the production, and that the entrances and 

Jouvet and Moliere 249 

exits were too slow-paced. He also stressed the lack of spon- 
taneity. 67 Thierry Maulnier wrote that Jouvet was too cold 
and calculating in his attitude toward Elmire, and since Tar- 
tuffe made no real effort to caress Elmire or even touch her, 
the whole series of stratagems, which she employed to fore- 
stall him (by placing objects in his path) was unnecessary 
and ridiculous. 68 However, 

One will say, and one will probably be right, that this "party game** had 
not been foreseen by Moliere, and the effectiveness of its comedy is lessened 
by eliminating precisely that which is coarsest, most direct, most Palais 
Royal. But Jouvet deserves some credit for having eliminated, in his 
respect for the audience, these rather vulgar indulgences which Moliere 
authorized. 69 

Elsa Triolet, however, was impressed by Jouvet's interpreta- 

But where Jouvet is astonishing is when Elmire plays the seduction scene 
while Orgon is hidden under the table : standing in the middle of the room, 
immobile and mute, Tartuffe receives the advances of Elmire. There he is, 
motionless, distrustful, weighing the words of Mrs. Orgon, pondering her 
sudden reversal ... A big fish who does not dare nibble at the hook. 70 

Jouvet had not followed tradition in portraying a Rabelaisian 
Tartuffe, the hearty glutton and hypocrite, but instead had 
created an attractive and rather enigmatic fellow, whose 
haughtiness concealed his implacable ambition, restlessness, 
conflicting desires, and anguish. Paul Abrana, although op- 
posed to this very original interpretation, wrote: "This con- 
ception reverses many old opinions. There is no doubt that 
it will be passionately discussed, one can accept it or reject it. 
But one cannot fail to recognize its interest." 71 

He did not build up Tartuffe's character at the expense of 
the other characters or the drama itself. He sought perfect 
integration. However, two innovations displeased the critics. 
First, the choice of Gabrielle Dorziat for the role of the sou- 
brette Dorine; secondly, the liberties Jouvet had taken in the 
final scene of the concluding act. 

Tradition demanded that Dorine be young, gay, and solidly 
built. But Jouvet could find nothing in Moliere's text to bear 

250 The Athenee Theatre 

out such a description. He looked upon her as a sort of govern- 
ess. Dorine therefore was not portrayed as a charming and 
insolent servant, but as a rather rotund, fully mature, and yet 
indulgent woman. 72 

The second criticism was lodged at Jouvefs alleged infidelity 
to the text Act V, scene 7 ended with a forty-five line speech 
delivered by the exempt (adjutant or police officer) . In the 
monologue, Moliere sought to pay a compliment to His Majesty 
Louis XIV. But to modern audiences, Jouvet thought, all this 
would be verbiage and boring. France had not had a king for 
more than a century and the lines had lost all significance. 
Instead, Jouvet planned to end the play on an ironic note. 
So, he pieced out the adjutant's speech among seven actors: 
sir judges and the exempt. He wrote: "This final tableau 
merely divides a monotonous speech between several ac- 
tors.* 973 At the beginning of the exempts speech, the rear 
wall rose and disappeared revealing six wigged judges in red 
velvet robes who pronounced judgement as in a court of law. 
Behind the judges hung a gold curtain with a large portrait of 
Louis XIV which was intended as an ironic note. But the 
critics were dismayed by this touch, and Robert Kemp, echoing 
a unanimous opinion wrote: "Alas I reserved the worst for 
the end. The grand finale! ... What a nightmare! What 
potion did dear Jouvet swallow. 5 * 74 

Jouvet, long since accustomed to harsh criticisms, declined 
to defend his position in this matter. 75 He took heed of but 
did not reply to the devastating criticisms. 

Madame Dussane was in total disagreement with Jouvet*s 
conception of Tartuffe: 

"We have just found ourselves before a Tartuffe performed in half-tones, 
in a scene smacking of semi-mourning, a Tartuffe at -whom the audience 
could not manage four laughs during the evening, a Tartuffe, let's face it, 
which boldly takes the point of view contrary to the author's most ohvious 
and explicit directions in twenty places. 76 

Thierry Maulnier's criticism, however, was laudatory and 

Jouvet and Moliere 251 

penetrating. He wrote that though Jouvet's production did 
not make one laugh, 

... in exchange, he gave us something infinitely precions, the feeling that 
the actors are not Brilliant robots, accustomed to provoking laughs and 
applause according to a fixed routine, with a certain number of speeches, 
cues, situations or exits known beforehand and determined once and for 
all, but living beings such as we might encounter in the grip of an incident 
such as we might have to experience. The feeling of warmth and of homely 
truth, even through comic deformation, is analogous to that produced on 
us by the paintings, rather conventionally classical in character, of Dutch 
interiors. 77 

A month before Jouvet opened in Tartuffe, on December 
28, 1950, he received a letter from a young war orphan in 
a refugee camp at Neuilly. He asked Jouvet the following 
question in connection with his production of Tartuffe: 
"When you created Tartuffe, what was your principal con- 
cern in order to give this work the seal of your personality." 7S 
Jouvet replied within five days. 

The concern of the director, like that of the actor, should not be to 
stamp the work which he is producing or in which he will act with his 
personality. But rather to treat the play, or the role, objectively, that is 
to say, to forebear from distorting it to meet preconceived wished-for 
meanings, and to defy the remembrance of what had already been seen, of 
ready made matters and ideas. 

There is a dispute and legend concerning each hero in the repertory. 
Tartuffe has especially been involved, despite himself, in polemics. Every 
time the Impostor appeared on stage, the actors and audience are already 
for or against him, have been appraised of his identity, his physical appear- 
ance, and his antecedents... Personally, I find his behavior enigmatic. 
It is not a question of judgment, but of feeling. At every moment during 
the course of the three acts that he is on stage, Tartuffe acts. It is difficult 
for the actor portraying Mm, if he wants to be objective, if he wants to 
follow the text only, without giving any other interpretation than that 
contained in the text, with its humanity and feeling. It is difficult, I say, 
to find the place, the passage where Tartuffe deliberately acts as an im- 
postor. 79 

For several weeks before the opening of Tartuffe, Jouvet 
gave himself up to religious meditation. He also read avidly 
in religious and other fields. 80 It was not beyond him to read 
three or four books a day. An impelling force was driving 

252 The Athenee Theatre 

him into the exploration of man's soul and of his own. It was 
a period of religious mysticism, of meditation, and troubled 
spirit for Jonvet. 

After twenty performances of Tartuffe, Jouvet left Paris 
with his company on a tour which lasted from February 22 
until June 25. Their itinerary included Belgium, Holland, the 
southern part of France, Portugal, Spain, North Africa and 
Switzerland. There were only two plays in the repertory: 
UEcole des Femmes and Knock. The tour was highly suc- 
cessful. Jouvet wrote, "We played before packed houses." 81 

Whenever Jouvet went on tour, he observed and studied his 
surroundings; he analyzed people and always found something 
interesting and stimulating about them: 

Everything alive is dramatic, everything within or outside self is dra- 
matic, and it is the dialogue between the self and the external world which 
that epithet "dramatic" denotes. It is also the mystery. The dramatic is 
turned to account in the theatre, hut it is the principle even of religious 

It begins hy getting hold of sell (a sense of fear), intense absorption 
which communicates to the individual a state difficult to explain, but which 
deposes his self, and at the same time spurs him on to discover a sense and 
a real possession of his personality. One experiences a solitude difficult 
to obtain by oneself, and in this solitude one encounters an inhabited 
world, in which a new life is revealed. All of this is nothing but a chapter 
concerning the knowledge of self and of the circumstances which, reveal 
the individual to himself. 82 

What attracted Jouvet to his religion was chiefly its intense 
drama and the mystery at its source. Always essentially a 
lonely man, he had tried to communicate his ideas and feelings 
to others but felt he had never fully succeeded. Jouvet found 
communion with religion necessary; in it he could lose him- 
self to achieve a fuller, more knowledgeable self. It was also 
an outlet for his pent-up emotions. In religious meditation, he 
better understood himself, his conflicts and his needs. He 
could now relax and yield himself to those mystical forces 
close to his heart, in which his spirit could find comfort. 

When he returned to Paris, Jouvet was an exhausted and 
sick man. Doctors had warned him before this that he should 

Jouvet and Moliere 253 

not put himself under too much strain. He was well aware 
of this, but he was driven by a compulsion. Yet he was ex- 
tremely concerned about his own condition. Sometimes, en- 
countering his old friend Georges Duhamel on coming off- 
stage, he would seize his hand and place it on his heart, saying: 
"You who are a doctor, feel my heart!" 8S 

Duhamel would feel the quick and uneven beat of a sick 
heart. But Jouvet continued to put an ever growing strain on 
it. On July 31, in recognition of his great achievements in the 
theatre, he was elevated to the rank of Commander of the 
Legion of Honor. During the years from 1947 to 1950, he 
had written numerous articles on the theatre, delivered lec- 
tures, produced plays and acted in them. Moreover, he had 
made eight movies in this three-year period: Quai des Orfevres, 
Les Amour eux sont Seuls au Monde, Entre Onze Heures et 
Minuit, Retour a la Vie, Miquette et sa Mere, Lady Paname 9 
Knock (second version) , and Une Histoire d Amour. 

All the while he was seeking new plays to produce. In a 
letter to Michel Etcheverry, written on August 9, 1950, he 
remarked : 

We musi start work on tnese two plays (Le Misanthrope UAvare)^ not at 
once, but one can never ponder them sufficiently before producing them, 
if one wants to produce them suitably. "We are going to revive Tartuffe, 
brat one must have plans one must make many plans. 84 

Thus we see that Jouvet planned to produce Le Misanthrope, 
UAvare, and Giraudoux's last play Pour Lucrece. But Ma- 
dame Giraudoux, who felt this play to be her last link with 
her husband, refused him permission until the^ end of 1952, 
Of course, scripts were offered him daily; he woud read the 
first few pages, rarely more; none could arouse his interest. 
He wanted a play of literary, philosophical, and dramatic 

It was suggested to Jouvet that he direct Sartre's new play, 
Le Diable et le Bon Dieu. When he wavered, he was accused 
of a lack of interest in plays by living authors, just as he had 

254 The Athenee Theatre 

once been accused of a lack of interest In classical plays. Jon- 
vet, goaded on by Ms friends, finally agreed to produce the 

Before Jouvet began rehearsals of Le Diable et le Bon Dieu 

on Ash Wednesday of February, 1951, an optional mass was 
held for those artists who might die within the year, and 
prophetically enough, Joiivet chose to read the poem com- 
posed by A. Willette in Jiine of 1914 for just such occasions. 

Aue Domine, m&ritztn te salutmt! 

Those who salute thee Lord, Before dying are 

Those whom thott hast created in thine own Image, to create art. 

Those who have meditated upon thy work and rendered hommage to thy 

They are the simple at heart, disdainfnl of diabolical gold, 

They are the artists who aspire to the glory of being at thy right . . . 

Those, Lord, salute thee before dying. 

"We, the artists, in, the dark arena, in the glimmer of the weapons wnich 
then, gayest us, before multitudes who have neither eyes, nor ears, but 
who have a month with which to jeer us if we fail . . . 

PoUice verm! we salute thee. 

Lord, before dying. 85 

Jouvet's energy was to be taxed still further. While working 
on the mise en scene for Le Diable et le Bon Dieu (the play 
was still unfinished) , the company was invited to tour in the 
United States and Canada. On February 22, 1951, the troupe 
arrived in Montreal. It performed to full houses in Montreal 
and Quebec. Then it went to Boston and New York, where 
it played at the ANTA playhouse in March, during UNESCO'S 
International Theatre Month. 

Few people then realized that Jouvet was gravely ill. He 
coughed frequently while playing Amolphe because of his 
weakened physical condition. Tense and constantly soaking 
in perspiration, he was forced to change his costume frequently, 
and with reason, for as Arnolphe, he was perpetual motion 
personified. He jitters, bounces, gyrates, mugs and wields his 
walking stick as a woodcutter would his axe. 86 During one 
performance, Jouvet suffered a heart attack, and in severe 
pain, gasped for breath, but he continued heroically to act. 

Jouvet and Moliere 255 

When, In the garden scene, he fell into his chair, the audience 
was carried away by the comedy of it; only his intimate friends 
knew that he had hardly sufficient breath to speak his lines. 
After the performance, a doctor administered an opiate and 
warned him that his heart was in bad condition. 87 And yet, 
when asked to lecture at clubs and universities Jouvet readily 
complied, although he must have realized that his time was 
drawing to a close. 

Jouvet liked American audiences. Although many did not 
understand a word of the play, his acting had such human 
appeal and such universality that American audiences remain- 
ed constantly interested and vastly amused. Jouvet himself 
enjoyed his stay and planned to return at some future date, 
although he knew within himself that it was a dream which 
would never be fulfilled. 

On his return to Paris, he began work on Sartre's play. 
Although he had already covered the unfinished manuscript 
in his possession with notes for an appropriate mise en scene, 
he still had much to do on it. Le Diable at le Bon Dieu was 
a play in three acts, requiring four hours for the performance. 
There were ten scenic changes, ninety costumes, and fifty 

From April 15 to June 7, Jouvet worked without respite. 
Since Sartre had not completed the script until the rehearsals 
were well underway, neither Jouvet nor the actors knew what 
the outcome would be. Moreover, Jouvet did not care too much 
for the play. He was too sincerely religious a man not to take 
affront at Sartre's expressions of atheism in it 88 To speed 
up the pace, Jouvet asked Sartre to cut some parts and to 
rewrite others. Sartre refused to do any rewriting although 
he agreed to cut out parts if necessary. Sartre was interested 
in emphasizing the philosophical aspect of the play; Jouvet 
preferred to stress its dramatic and lyrical character. Thus 
the two men could never see eye to eye and this proved to 
be a major source of irritation to them. 89 Consequently, the 

256 The Athenee Theatre 

atmosphere during rehearsals was strained. Jouvet would sit 
in the orchestra, chain-smoking, watching the proceedings, but 
rarely making comment Sartre noticed that he would fre- 
quently take his pulse. 00 Maria Casares, the feminine lead, 
was deeply distorted because Jouvet never offered her en- 
couragement. 91 Furthermore, Jouvet felt frustrated because 
he could not work with the designer of the stage sets, Felix 
LaMsse, in the same free and understanding manner as he 
had with Berard. Therefore, during most of the rehearsals, 
Jouvet remained detached and apparently uninterested. 

But, in spite of the uncomfortable situation, he was able 
to integrate the vast panoramic work and give it drive and 
coherence. Most critics marveled at the results. On opening 
night, June 7, 1951, which was one of the most elegant Paris 
had seen in many years, success seemed assured. 

Jouvet now sought to cleanse himself of any sinful connec- 
tion with lie Diable et le Bon Dieu by producing a religious 
play. A member of his troupe had given him a copy of Graham 
Greene's The Power and the Glory late in 1950, After reading 
this novel which touched him deeply, he was at once intent 
upon turning it into a play. He asked his friend Clouzot to 
adapt it for the stage. The play, he felt, would be the cul- 
mination of his life's work. Greene, however, did not react 
favorably to Clouzot's adaptation, and so Jouvet called upon 
Pierre Bost to write a new version. 

Before Jouvet had left on the American tour, he had written 
Bost the following letter: 

I am leaving for Canada and the U.S. I return on April 7. I shall not 
have the pleasure of seeing yon before departing, and I have not the leisure 
to explain to you in detail what I should have liked you to do for me. 

In the play I should like to recapture the atmosphere of the novel by 
means of richer dialogue more urgent in order to draw from the char- 
acter a more precise picture of the successive stages in which that character 

One must, I believe, he partial to the novel if one can in order to dis- 
cover everything slack or static in its successive stages. It is the only 
possible way to present that character. 92 

Jouvet and Moliere 257 

Early In the month of August, 1951, rehearsals of The Power 
and the Glory began. Jouvet did his utmost to make it a first- 
rate production. The text seemed at one place incomplete, 
so Jouvet suggested to Pierre Bost that he smooth out the tran- 
sitions between the fifth and sixth tableaux with some ad- 
ditional dialogue. Jouvet, always uncertain and hesitant, was 
now more so than ever during this period of failing health. 
Again he wrote: "I don't know whether my idea of adding the 
transitional dialogue was a good one. I don't know what I 
shall do..." 93 

On this same day, he wrote Pierre Renoir, informing him 
that he was still groping in the dark, still trying to understand 
the character he was to portray. 

I began staging Act I without myself as yet being able to rehearse for 
as you felt it is a difficult role and I do not know bow to approach it. 
It is not at all the usual theatre. Aside from certain passages, the dialogue 
has a cold pathos, almost impossible to experience within oneself while 
playing it, without Becoming "bombastic.** I am thinking of Merimee 
I am thinking of an objective, a descriptive theatre a melodrama in which 
the performance would be demonstrative without participation (what I 
mean is the customary participation of the actor who tries to become the 
character) . 

It seems to me that the secret here is more than ever to demonstrate, 
without taking it upon oneself, to portray for the sake of the audience. 
In these dialogues, there is a little of the art of bookkeeping by double 
entry, as they say in accountancy, which is commonplace in the movies. 
It is a cold and demonstrative theatre an epic theatre in the sense that 
it tells more than it tries to have actor and spectator enter into the bond 
of feeling things in common. 

According to this conception, casting is very special and it demands of 
the actors during the performance physical showmanship rather than a 
knowledge of the emotions or the usual acting qualities. The art of acting 
in this case is different. The verity of the acting varies. Aside from a few 
rather short passages, this dialogue cannot be played either at a definite 
pace or rhythm nor within a situation. On the contrary, neither one nor 
the other are necessary. The tone and a concern for the depiction of the 
characters are predominant. At no time is there that "exigency", that pre- 
cipitancy which carries actors and spectators off their feet. 

In other words the actor must do and say, but without trying to embody 
a total mood. He must above all strive for a lucid composition, explanatory 
and detached from himself. Here one approaches rather abstract acting. 

Am I mistaken? 

258 The Athenee Theatre 

And all this is very difficult to say. Here there is a little of what Brecht 
calls the "theatre of alienation**, the unemotional theatre, whose aim is 
rather more to stir up opinion, evaluation, a reaction in the mind of the 
spectator and so to "engage" him in the drama rather than to carry him 

away, to make him participate in and commune with the feelings and 
sensations expressed by the actors (on their part) in a paroxysm in which 
actors and spectators end up hy living in harmony. In this latter case, the 
audience has lost all faculty of judgment and its mind is filched away in 
favor of its feelings ... it no longer evaluates, no longer sees, no longer 
judges, and it would be unable t participate In the ideas, in the themes 
of the work. 

Excuse me for telling yon all this, but I am trying to see clearly. 

The ticklish problem is to know whether the andience will follow. 

Up to this point the text is of real interest, without one word too many. 

Finally, I am very impatient and distressed. 94 

Four days later he still was unable to find himself in the 
part. But lie told Father Laval, his friend and adviser, while 
dining with him, that the production of Greene's play would 
be the fulfillment of one of his fondest dreams for "So I shall 
tell a little of what I feel, of what I believe." 95 

Although realizing that he had not long to live, he intended 
to live his life to the hilt, for it had long been his way to 
expend himself in order to give pleasure to others. On August 
14, 1951, another honor was bestowed upon him : he was named 
* 4 Adviser to the General Administrative Staff of Arts and 
Letters for all questions relative to the decentralization of 
the theatre," He accepted this honor, and without delay, 
returned to rehearsals. 

Later in the same day, Jouvet began to yawn rather fre- 
quently, and one actor told him that he looked pale. To this 
he replied, "I, I have never been pale!** 96 His cast suggested 
that he rest for a few minutes. He retreated to the bar of the 
theatre and stretched out on the carpeting. He yawned more 
often now, and some members of the cast noted a bizarre sound 
when he opened his mouth. A few minutes later, Jouvet closed 
his eyes. The cast, now alarmed about his condition, sum- 
moned the doctor. About a half an hour later, the doctor 
arrived. He gave Jouvet an injection of sulphocamphor and 

Jouvet and Moliere 259 

morphine and ordered a complete rest, since the slighest ex- 
ertion might prove fatal. With the help of a mechanic, Paul 
Barge carried Jouvet, sitting on a chair, to a small staircase 
which led to his office. Once in his loge-bureau, they stretched 
him out on a divan and an extraordinary expression of vitality 
returned to the actor. Jouvet said, "Leave me." 97 A few min- 
utes later, he complained of a pain in his left arm. The pain 
became acute. Paralysis enveloped the entire left side of his 
tody. The next two days, August 15 and 16, he lay motionless 
on the divan. Then further complications set in and at about 
6:15 of the second evening, after receiving the last rites, 
Jouvet died. 

On the 17th and 18th, Jouvet lay in state at the Athenee 
Theatre. Great crowds came to pay their last respects to an 
actor of many gifts and true humanity. On the 18th of August, 
his body was conveyed to the Saint-Sulpice Church, On the 
21st, at 11 o'clock in the morning, jthe mass took place. The 
Dominican brother, Father Laval, officiated at the funeral. 
Then his body was laid to rest in the Montmartre cemetary. 

There were over 30,000 people inside and outside the church, 
people who hardly knew him, but had followed his career, 
admired his art, and loved the man. In many countries of 
the world, newspapers featured laudatory articles on Jouvet; 
and several papers printed pictures of him in the various roles 
he had played during his long career. Even to this hour, his 
grave is covered with fresh flowers almost daily. The path 
leading to it has been well-trodden by friends, acquaintances, 
and strangers who have come to offer him once again an af- 
fectionate farewell. One turns to the left at the Montmartre 
cemetery and follows the first path to the right, and then, 
at the twenty-ninth division, one arrives at the grave. 


Gardener of the mind, doctor of feelings, clockmaker of words, 
obstetrician of the inarticulate, engineer of the imagination, 
cooker-up of resolutions, manager of souls, king of the theatre, 
and valet of the stage, conjuror or magician, tester and touchstone 
of the audience, lecturer, diplomat, treasurer, nurse or orchestra 
conductor, painter and wardrobe-keeper, exegetist, intransigeant, 
or opportunist, convinced and hesitant; one hundred attempts have 
been made to define him, but he is indefinable, since his functions 
are indefinable. He is all love and tenderness for those he has chosen 
or for the work on which he is laboring, his only concern is, by 
raising himself, to see that wonderful eternity appear, 
which expresses itself by success - 1 

What does Jouvet stand for in the history of the French 
theatre? One is inclined to believe that he stands for experi- 
ment and an unremitting search for the basic values of the 
plays he produced and the methods needed to do them justice. 
Unlike Stanislavsky, Appia, Craig, Reinhardt, and Antoine, 
Jouvet recoiled from drawing up fixed sets of rules to which 
actors must adhere. He felt such rules could only hamper 
the creative expression of the actor. He therefore approached 
a script with all his sensibilities and, as far as humanly possi- 
ble, with a mind devoid of personal, literary, or historical 
preconceptions. He relied on his experience to assess for 
him the rhythms of the dialogue and the structure of the play. 
He did not hesitate to follow the dictates of his intuition, if 

Conclusion 261 

need be, for he realized that the truths of the theatre are not 
rational truths. 

J ouvet came to these conclusions slowly and painfully, 
though they are conclusions which have become common- 
place in the contemporary theatre. Nor was he alone in his 
experiments and explorations. A world-wide trend was in the 
making and J ouvet, sensing its importance, took part in it. 

J olivet's early experiences were fraught with difficulties 
which did not augur well for his future theatrical career. 
Such misadventures as J ouvet did suffer, however, were per- 
haps ultimately rewarding in that they gained for him a deeper 
understanding of human experience and developed in him 
broader sympathies. The result was that his work in the 
theatre was never barrenly abstract or purely theoretical in 
approach. His experiences as a man gave him the blood of 
life? as actor and creator. 

But J ouvet would never have made his mark in the French 
theatre had he not possessed a strong and resilient character, 
perseverance and a passion for getting to the bottom of things. 
It was during the latter part of his life especially that J ouvet 
felt a deep and persistent urg to gain a better understanding 
of himself. He realized that to do so would help him in the 
creation of the characters he had to portray. He also felt an 
inner necessity of being thoroughly honest with himself and 
soon realized that his problem stemmed from a basic duality 
of mind. Certain symptoms made that clear to him: his 
deep feeling of insecurity, his lengthening periods of melan- 
choly and dissatisfaction, his frenzied drive and flight from 
self into the roles he portrayed. He sensed a profound im- 
pulse to find a hospitable home for his embattled spirit, an 
asylum from the harassments of reality. Eventually he found 
such a home in the roles created by Romains, Giraudoux, 
and Moliere. 

What were Jouvet's contributions to the theatre? These 
would include: (1) introducing Giraudoux the playwright; 

262 The Athenee Theatre 

(2) freeing MoHere from the trappings of tradition; (3) using 
new lighting techniques (Jouvet invented a special type of 
light called the Jouvets) ; (4) perfecting the art of applying 
make-up (so intent was Jouvet upon realizing the proper effect 
that he himself often made-up the faces of his actors) ; (5) in- 
troducing a new verbal nmsicality and rich rhythmic effects 
into dialogue; and (6) using distinctive and characteristic 
decor to point up the dramatic. Jouvet's decor ranged from the 
very simple to the highly rococo. Jouvet also possessed a rich 
palette and sometimes his sets had the effect of an impression- 
istic painting. 

Jouvef s lectures on acting and his direction as professor 
at the Conservatoire were also noteworthy. He believed in 
the Socratic method of teaching and wanted to know and 
understand his students. He also wanted his students to know 
and understand themselves. He tried to instill in them a 
spirit of search, a need to probe. Valery said: "Le texte meurt 
a sa source." Jouvet said it was up to the actor to resuscitate 
the text by creating flesh-and-blood human beings. This 
could be accomplished only by passing through three stages 
in acting: sincerity, objectivity, and intuition. Although few 
actors ever really reach the final intuitive phase, Jouvet knew 
it well. 

According to Jouvet, the art of the theatre is based on 
sensations and the effective use of them. A play is a message, 
a proposition, an act of love, and it is up to the actor to 
translate and project for others the ideas and sensations of 
the author. To achieve the best results requires a high degree 
of receptivity and an ability to reject at times all that is 
cerebral and intellectual. 

The experienced actor can readily detect the difference 
between the performer whom he must be and the instrument 
which he is. He knows that the character he is portraying 
lives its own independent existence and that his own sensi- 
bilities may often be at complete variance with those of the 

Conclusion 263 

character lie portrays. Yet it is only at moments of real 
dedoublement that the actor can criticize himself and im- 
prove his creative powers through intuition. Such opportunity 
is, however, lost if the actor uses the character to further his 
own selfish ends: dilletantism, exhibitionism, egoism, escape. 

It is rather interesting to see how a sensitive actor, like 
J ouvet, reacted to the reading of a play. He first would pre- 
occupy himself with the page listing the characters, which 
described the relationships of the protagonists. He would 
then turn to the summary of the decor, and by the time he 
had finished reading the second act, he was often nnable to 
remember any of the play's details. While this might indicate 
that sensitivity and intellectual faculties sometimes work at 
cross purposes, it could also portend the gaining of greater 
insight by the actor. 

Jouvet often pictured the actor as a tight-rope walker, 
relying on sensitivity or mechanics to keep his balance. At 
some point along the wire neither is needed, and as the actor 
stands there in perfect equilibrium, nobody, not even the 
playwright, can experience his dizziness, vertigo, madness, 
and intoxication. 2 

We will speak of all this when you meet with your first discouraging 
experience, your first failure, after the glow which your first success has 
given you, at the moment when anxious concern to have another one shall 
take hold of you. 

For you will experience failures and discouragement. If the theatre does 
not give them to you, then life will come between the theatre and you. 

Your mouth will taste hitterness or your heart will he hitter. 

Do not be disillusioned. 

Your first discouraging experience will be all powerful, salutory, it will 
serve to help you in the end. 

You have two roads before you, either to submit, to be an unconscious 
instrument, to let yourself go, be carried away; or to try to understand^ 
to serve, to seek perfection for your purpose, to be an actor, with or 
without a mission, with or without a conscience. 

I do not say that one is worth more than another. 

I shall tell you, as you will later tell it, what I know, what I saw, what I 

Listen, my friend, or else turn the page, and listen no longer. 3 




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costumes by Alix; music by M. 
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Motion Pictures Made by 
Louis Jouvet 

1933 Topaz; Knock (first version) 

1935 La Kermesse Heroi'que (Carnival IB Flanders) 

1936 Mister Flow; Les Bas-Fonds 

1937 Mademoiselle Docteur; Un Carnet de Bal (Life Dances On) ; 
Drole de Drame; Alibi 

1937-38 La Marseillaise; Ranrantcho 

1938 La Maison du Maltais ; Entree des Artistes ; Education de Prince ; 
Le Drame a Shanghai; Hotel du Nord 

1939 La Fin du Jour; La Charrette Fantome 
193940 Volpone 

1940 Un Tel Pere et Fils; Serenade 

1946 Un Revenant; Copie Conforme 

1947 Quai des Orfevres 

1948 Les Amoureux Sont Seuls au Monde 
194849 Entre Onze Heures et Minuit 

1949 Retour a la Vie ; Miquette et sa Mere ; Lady Paname 

1950 Knock (second version) 

1951 Une Histoire d'Amour 

294 Notes to The Youth and the Apprentice 

So lie was to appear as Jouvey during most professional engagements 
until after World War I. 

15. Jouvet's friends were: Banville d'Hostel, Roger Desvignes (G. H. 
Mai), Celerier, Bernard Marcotte, Gabriel Tristan Franconi, Andre Colo- 
mer, Andre de Szekeley, and F. Loscen. Revue tfHistoire du Theatre, 
I'll (1952), 18. 

16. Ibid., p. 20. 

17. Corneille's play Horace. 

18. Leloir (1860-1909) was bom in Paris and was the student of Bres- 
sant at the Conservatoire. He acted at the Gymnase and made his debut 
at the Conservatoire in 1880 and later became a Soeietaire and Professor 
there. He wrote UAn de Dire and Chez le Docteur. 

19* Jouvet, Reflexions, p. 178. 

20. Revue d 9 Histoire du Theatre, MI (1952), 21. For further informa- 
tion on Jouvet's early productions see Appendix. 

21. Geismer, "Reussir," Jean-Claude, July 1939. 

22. Vildrac to author, 1952. 

23. Prophetically, the latter production took place at the Theatre de 
FAthenee Saint-Germain, 21 Rue du Yieax-Colombier, which was to be 
the site of the future Theatre du Vieux-Colombier. 

24. Geismer, "Reussir," Jean-Claude, July 1939. 

25. Clerc, "Les Evades de la Pharmacie," in La Revue des Specialistes, 
March-April, 1935. 

26. In August 1910, together with the impressario Zeller, they toured 
Belgium and the French provinces, performing in Hernani, Le Juif Errant, 
Ruy Bias, La Tosca, Le Courrier de Lyon, and Le Comte de Monte Crist o. 

27. Jouvet, Temoigtiages, p, 164. 

28. Geismer, "Renssir," Jean^Claude, July, 1939. 

29. Vera Sergine, Mady-Berry, Gina Barbieri, Cecile Guyon, Durec, 
Charles Duilin, Roger Karl, and Louis Jouvet. 

30. Boll, Jacques Rouche, p. 20. 

31. The other decorative artists engaged by Rouche were Maxime Detho- 
mas, Rene Piot and Jacques Dresa. 

32. Boll, Jacques Rouche, p. 230. 

33. Rouche, Revue des Deux Mondes, April, 1952. 

34. This play proved Jouvet's talents not only as an actor, but also as 
a make-up artist. 

35. Copeau, "Le Pain de Gheon,** Le Theatre, December 1911. 

36. Rouche to author, 1952. 

37. Revue d?Histoire du Theatre, I-II (1952), 25. 

38. De Saix, "Louis Jouvet,** Les Nouvelles Litteraires, August 22, 1946. 

39. Copeau informed Jouvet during a performance at the Theatre du 
Chateau d*Eau that the Vieux-Colombier theatre would soon be founded 
and tbat he wanted Jouvet to join the group. 

40. Copeau, a Un Essai de Renovation dramatique ; Le Theatre du Vieux- 
Colombier," La Nauvelle Revue Frangaue, September 1, 1913. 

Notes to Jouvet and the Vieux Colombier 295 


1. Jouvet, "Hommage a J. Copeau," in Les Nouvelles Litter air es, Febru- 
ary 10, 1949. 

2. Knrtz, ]acques Copeau, p. 25. 

3. Perhaps inconoclasm is the wrong word to describe Ms attitude. 
Copeau did not want to break with the past, but rather to return to the 
fundamental sound traditions of the past, which for so long had been 

4. Copeau, Critiques d?un outre temps, p. 239. 

5. Ibid., p. 233. 

6. Jourdain was asked to do the remodeling of the theatre. 

7. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 119. 

8. Jouvet, Blanche Albane (Mme Duhamel), Gina Barbieri, Suzanne 
Bing, Jane Lory, Cariffa, Charles Dullin, Roger Karl, Armand Tallier, 
and Lucien Weber. 

9. Gheon, "Le Theatre," in La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, December 1, 
1913, p. 347. 

10. Roger Martin du Gard, "Louis Jouvet," in Programme (Athenee). 

11. Duhamel, "Le Souvenir de Louis Jouvet," in France-Illustration, 
September 1, 1951. 

12. Blanche Albane (Mme Georges Duhamel to author, 1952. 

13. Copeau, Souvenirs du Vieux-Colombier, p. 25. 

14. Gheon, "Le Theatre," La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, December, 1913, 
p. 975. 

15. Lucien Aguettand to author, 1952. 

16. Ibid. 

17. Claude Roger-Marx, "Les Fils Louverne," Comoedia-Illustre Novem- 
ber 20, 1913, p. 197. 

18. Revue tfHistoire du Theatre, HI (1952) 93. 

19. Lucien Aguettand to author, 1952. 

20. "La Jalousie du Barbouille," Comoedia-Illustre, February 20, 1914. 

21. Jouvet had designed the set and the costumes for the 1911 produc- 
tion; these were lent to Copeau by Jacques Rouche for the latter one. 
Since Copeau was staging many plays at this period, the fact that the 
costumes did not have to be made or refashioned at the sewing shops 
of the Vieux-Colombier lightened the cost and task for the producer, 
Jacques Riviere, "Les Freres Karaxnazov," in La Nouvelle Revue Fran- 
gaise, May 1, 1911. 

22. Roussou, "Les Freres Karamazov," in Choses de Theatre, I (1922), 

23. Mercure, Mercure de France, April 16, 1914. 

24. John Drinkwater became famous after the publication of his play 
Abraham Lincoln in 1918. 

25. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 46. 

26. I&iU, p. 46. 

296 Notes to Jouvet and the Vieux Colombier 

27. "French Flays in London," the London Times, March 30, 1914. 

28. Mercure, Mercure de f ranee, April 16, 1914. 

29. Copeau, Souvenirs du Yieu&Colombier, p. 35. 

30. Schlumberger, **Le Theatre,** in La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, July 1, 

31. Copeau, Souvenirs du Yieux*Colombier 9 p. 37. 

32. Claude Roger-Marx, **La Nnit des Rois,** in Comoedia-Illustre, June 
15, 1914. 

33. Schlumberger, **Le Theatre,** in La. NouveUe Revue Frangaise, July 1, 
1914, p. 141. 

34. IWei, p. 4445. 

35. Schlumberger, **Le Theatre," in La NouveUe Revue Frangaise, July 
1, 1914, p. 141. 

36. Claude Roger-Marx, **La Nnit des Rois,** in Comoedia-IUustre, June 
15, 1914, p. 806. 

37. Schlumberger, a Le Theatre,** in La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, July 
1, 1914, p. 141. 

38. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 62. 

39. Ibid. 

40. I&KL 

41. Chancerel, "Jacques Copeau, 1'oeuvre et Fesprit du Yienx-Colom- 
bier,** in La Revue des Jeunes, March 15, 1935. 

42. Georges Duhamel to author, 1952* 

43. The troupe consisted of Remain Bouquet, Lucien "Weber, Suzanne 
Bing, Valentine Tessier, and Jane Lory, besides several actors who had 
not played previously with them: Emile Chifolian, Andre Chotin, Jean 
Sarment, Jacques Vildrac, Rene Bouquet, Lucienne Bogaert, Madeleine 
Geoffroy, Frangois Goumac, Henri Dhurtal, Marcel Millet, Marcel Val- 
lee, Paulette Noiseux, and Eugenie Nau. 

44. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 83. 

45. Jouvet, in preface to Les Fourberies de Scapin, p. 20. 

46. Ibid^ p. 17, 

47. Ibid., p. 124. 

48. Ibid^ p. 26. 

49. New York Times, November 28, 1917. 

50. Louis Defoe, "French Theatre Begins with Queer Ceremonies,** New 
York World, November 28, 1917. 

51. Hornblow, **Mr. Homblow goes to the Play,** in Theatre Magazine, 
January 1918, p. 21. 

52. New York Times, December 6, 1918. 

53. Homblow, Theatre Arts, April, 1919, p. 206. 

54. Phelps, The 20th Century Theatre, p. 53. 

55. Jouvet played the part of Louis Thieux in Les Mauvais Bergers, the 
Marquis de Keergazon in La Petite Marquise, and Trielle in La Paix chez 

56. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, 89. 

Notes to Jouvet and the Vienx Colombier 297 

57. Seligmann, in "The Play: Two Comedies at a French Theatre," 
The Globe and Commercial Advertiser, March 6, 1918. 

58. During the first season, Jouvet created the sets lor Le Carrosse du 
Saint Sacrement, Les Mauvais Bergers, The Brothers Karamazov, La 
Premiere surprise de I' Amour by Marivaux. He designed the decors for 
the following plays: Crainquebille, Le VoUe du Bonheur, Rosmersholm, 
Les Caprices de Marianne, Les Romanesques, Boubouroche t Chatterton, 
Pelleas et Melisande, Washington, La Coupe enchantee, and Le Misan- 
thrope. Louis Defoe, "A Season of Farewell Plays," New York World, 
March 24, 1918. 

59. Lucien Aguettand to author, 1952. 

60. New York Times, October 22, 1918. 

61. Ibid., October 29, 1918. 

62. Jouvet, "A FOmbre de Moliere," Conferencia, October 15, 1947. 

63. Ibid. 

64. Schlumberger, "Le Medecin Malgre Lai," in La Nouvelle Revue 
Frangaise, December 1, 1920, p. 958. 

65. Corbin, New York Times, December 17, 1918. 

66. Gabriel Boissy, "Le Misanthrope an Vieux-Colombier," Le Theatre, 
March, 1922, p. 152. 

67. Ibid. 

68. Lucien Agnettand to author, 1952. 

69. Mme Dussane to author, 1952. 

70. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 119-20. 

71. Jouvet, "Success, the Theatre's Only Problem," Theatre Arts, May, 

72. "Conte d'ffiver," Le Theatre et Comoedia Illustre, No. 383 (1920). 
p. 20. 

73. Gheon, "Le Theatre," La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, March 1, 
1920, p. 461. 

74. Mauriac, "Courrier Theatral," Revue Hebdomadaire, April, 1920, 
p. 538. 

75. Copeau, Programme (Cromedeyre-le-Vieil) , 1920. 

76. Woollcott, "Second Thoughts on First Nights," New York Times, 
August 15, 1920. 

77. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 105. 

78. Valery Larbaud, Paul Valery, Andre Gide, Benjamin Cremieux, 
Albert Thibaudet, Jacques Riviere, Edmond Jaloux, and Henri Gheon, 
to mention but a few. 

79. The teachers and the technical advisers were: Jacques Copeau, 
Jules Remains, Georges Chennevierre, Louis Jouvet, Suzanne Bing, the 
Fratellini brothers, Andre Bacque, Romain Bouquet, Georges Vitray, 
Mme Jane Bathori, Louis Brochard, Albert Marque, and Mile Marthe 

80. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 107. 

81. Ibid., p. 110. 

298 Notes to Becoming a Master 

82. Aguettand to author, 1952. 

83. Ibid. 

84. Ibid. 

85. Kurtz, Jacques Copeau, p. 111. 

86. There were two outstanding stage sets in this play the black and 
gold furniture in the private study of the first act, and the green lawn 
and fog-covered pond in the second. Lucien Aguettand to author, 1952. 

87. "I/Amour, Livre d'Or," Le Theatre, March 1922, p. 164 

88. Ifcid, July, 1922, p. 11. 

89. Ibid. 


1. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 99. 

2. Lucien Aquettand to author, 1952. 

3. Hehertot to Aguettand in a letter, September 2, 1922 (unpublished), 

4. Jouvet, "Success, the Theatre's Only Problem," Theatre Arts, XX 
(1936), 354. 

5. Lucien Aguettand to author, 1952. 

6. Veber, "M. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la Debauche," Le Petit Journal, 
March 15, 1923. . 

7. Boissard, "Chronique Dramatique," Les Nouvettes Litteraires, March 
24, 1923. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Lugne-Poe, "Coup d'Oeil sur la Semaine," Les Nouvettes Litteraires 9 
March 24, 1923. 

10. Jouvet to Aguettand in a letter, August 22, 1923 (unpublished). 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Ibid. 

14. "La Journee des Aveux," Le Theatre, December, 1923, p. 272. 

15. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 98. 

16. Ibid., p. 98. 

17. Ibid., p. 100. 

18. Ibid., p. 102. 

19. Ibid., p. 102. 

20. Remains, Knock, Act I, scene 1. 

21. Guth, "Quand Jouvet repete," Revue de Paris, February, 1949. 

22. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 115. 

23. Ibid., p. 103. 

24. Ibid., p. 103. 

25. Ibid., p. 104. 

26. Ibid., p. 104. 

27. Remains, "Louis Jouvet," in Programme, January, 1938. 

28. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 104. 

29. Ibid., p. 105. 

Notes to Trials and Tribulations 299 

30. Hilippon, "Quand Knock fitait Pharmacien," Candide, July 4 1935. 

31. Ibid. 

32. Programme (Knock). 

33. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 105. 

34. Programme (Knock). 

35. Paris Soir, December 27, 1930. 

36. Dherelle, "Lorsque Louis Jouvet, pendant 1'entr'acte continue a 
jouer les medecins," Paris Soir, December 27, 1930. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Ibid. 

39. Bourcier, Oeuvre, September 7, 1924. 

40. "R. C.," Comoedia, September 16, 1924. 

41. Copeau, "Accord Jacques Copeau-Louis Jouvet," Comoedia, Sep- 
tember 17, 1924. 

42. Le Fevre, Intransigeant, September 18, 1924. Jouvet took into his 
troupe some of the finest actors of the Vieux-Colombier: Romain 
Bouquet, Valentine Tessier, Jane Lory, Georges Vitray, Albert Savry, 
and Jean le Goff. 

43. Copeau, letter, Programme, September 23, 1924. 


1. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 20. 

2. Comoedia, October 8, 1924. 

3. "La Scintillante" (review), Le Theatre Comoedia-Illustre, Decem- 
ber 15, 1924. 

4. Claude Roger-Marx, "La Scintillante" (review), La Nowvelle Revue 
Frangaise, XXIII (1924). 

5. Seize, "Un Grand Comedien Louis Jouvet,'* VAUo.ce Lorraine, 
December 22, 1923. 

6. Jouvet, "Technique du Theatre," January 26, 1926 (unpublished). 

7. Craig, On the Art of the Theatre, p. 5. 

8. Kessel, "Au long des quais avec Jouvet," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, 
January 1924. 

9. Hid. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Marcel Achard to author, 1952. 

12. Savoir, Comoedia, December 10, 1924. 

13. Ibid. 

14. Berton, "Les Visages de la Comedie," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, 
February 14, 1925. 

15. Gignoux, Comoedia, February 1, 1925. 

16. Liauser, "Le regne des Huissiers," Comoedia, April 2, 1925. 

17. Ibid. 

18. Colanerie, "L'Incident de la Comedie des Champs-Elysees," Comoe- 
dia, April 3, 1925. 

300 Notes to Trials and Tribulations 

19. Ibid. 

20. Antoine, "S. O. S., w Journal, April 4, 1925. 

21. Jouvet, Reflexions, p. 157. 

22. It is interesting to note that Tripes dP Or 'was translated into Russian 
and produced in Moscow with considerable success. 

23. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 99. 

24. I&i&, p. 99. 

25. Charles Vildrac to author, 1952. 

26. Ibid. 

27. Ibid. 

28. Billy, "Theatre: Revue de la Qumzaiiie" Mercure de France, 
November 1, 1925. 

29. Ibid. 

30. Cremieux, "Le Theatre, 5 * La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, XXV (1925). 
51. Billy, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 

November 1, 1925, p. 766. 

32." Bernard Zimmer to author, 1952. 

33. Brisson, Le Temps, May 8, 1926. 

34. Jouvet to Aguettand in a letter, November 22, 1928 (unpublished). 

35. Zimmer to author, 1952. 

36. Jouvet to Bost in a letter, August 14, 1925 (unpublished). 

37. Deux Paires d'Amis opened together with a revival of MerimeVs 
Le Carrosse du Scant Sacrement. Louis Jouvet played the part of the 
Eveque de Lima, the same role he had performed when the play was 
first given at the Vieux-Colombier. 

38. Bost to author, 1952. 

39. Programme, 1926. 

40. Chantecler, October 16, 1926. 

41. Paul Achard, in Programme (Le Dictateur), 1926. 

42. Ibid. 

43. Ibid. 

44. Liberte, October 6, 1926. 

45. Rey, "Le Dictateur," Comoedia, October 7, 1926. 

46. Marquetty, Mon Ami Jouvet, p. 94. 

47. Included in their repertoire were the following plays : The Brothers 
Karamazov, Les Bas-fonds, Medee, Le Cadavre Vivant, Le Jardin des 
Cerises, Le Mariage, Chirurgie, La Demande en Mariage, JubUe, La Veule 
du Jugement. La Revue cPHistoire du Theatre, I-II (1952). 46. 

48. Marquetty, op. cit., p. 97. 

49. Ibid., p. 108. 

50. Comoedia, May 29, 1926. 

51. Marquetty, Mon Ami Jouvet, p. 100. 

52. Ibid., p. 109. 

53. Rivollet, "Le public aime Fixnprevu," Intransigeant, February 6, 

54. Programme, (Outward Bound), 1926. 

Notes to Trials and Tribulations 301 

55. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
March 15, 1934. 

56. Liauser, "Comment on fait des vagues avec... des elastiques," 
Comoedia, December 31, 1926. 

57. Ibid. 

58. Ibid. 

59. Jouvet to Aguettand in a letter, Saturday, 1925 (unpublished) . 

60. Reboux, "Au Grand Large," Paris-Sow, December 29, 1926. 

61. Gaulois, December 29, 1926. 

62. "A propos du Revizor," Rappel, June 12, 1927. 

63. Paris Midi, December 20, 1926. 

64. Gaulois, December 29, 1926. 

65. Rivollet, Intransigeant, February 6, 1927. 

66. Programme (Le Revizor) , 1927. 

67. Cosset in Programme (Le Revizor} , 1927. 

68. Ibid. 

69. Flers, Le Figaro, April 25, 1927. 

70. "A propos du Revizor," Rappel, June 12, 1927. 

71. Ibid. 

72. Rey, Comoedia, April 6, 1927. 

73. Ibid. 

74. Flers, Le Figaro, April 25, 1927. 

75. Ibid. 

76. Berton, "Les Visages de la Comedie," Les Nouvelles Litteraires 9 
April 23, 1927. 

77. "Louis Jouvet nous parle de son Theatre," Le Soir, February 2, 

78. Stuart, "Leopold le Refuse," Le Soir, October 19, 1927. 

79. Jouvet to Sarment in a letter, November 4, 1926 (unpublished). 

80. Jouvet to Sarment in a letter, Entr'acte, 1927. 

81. Ibid. 

82. "Chronique Dramatique du Figaro," Le Figaro, October, 1927. 

83. Brisson, Le Temps, October 17, 1927. 

84. Vildrac to author, 1952. 

85. Ibid. 

86. Jouvet to Sarment in a letter, August 3, 1928 (unpublished). 

87. Zimmer, "La creation d'une piece dans un theatre d'avant-garde," 
Conferencia, April 5, 1927. 

88. Carr, "Les Qualre," Theatre Arts, March, 1929. 

89. La Revue d'Histoire du Theatre, MI (1952), 49. 

90. Carr, "Les Quatre," Theatre Arts, March, 1929. 

91. Wissant, Volonte, January 29, 1928. 

92. Noziere, Avenir, January 27, 1928. 

93. Ginisty, "Les Quatre et la Critique," Comoedia, March 20, 1928. 

94. Wissant, Volonte, January 29, 1928. 

95. Zimmer to author, 1952. 

302 Notes to Jouvet and Giraudowc 

96. Brisson, Le Temps, April 2, 1928. 

97. Paul Achard, Presse, March 29, 1928. 

98. Dubech, Candide, April 2, 1928. 

99. Zimmer, Paris Soir, March 26, 1928. 

100. Ibid. 

101. Boll, Paris Soir, March 31, 1928. 

102. Ibid. 

103. Ibid. 

104. Brisson, e Temps, April 2, 1928. 

105. Antoine, Information, April 2, 1928. 

106. Zimmer, Information, April 9, 1928. 

107. Antoine, Information, April 9, 1928. 

108. Ibid. 


1. Giraudoux, Litterature, p. 222. 

2. Antoine, Information, May 4, 1932. 

3. La JSetJwe tfHistoire du Theatre, I-EE (1952), 51. 

4. Barreyre, Candide, May 24, 1928. 

5. Giraudoux, "Pourcraoi fai ecrit Siegfried," Porzs-Sozr, April 30, 

6. I/a Kevzie cTHistoire du Theatre, I-U (1952), 1951. 

7. Ambriere, **Les Grandes Premieres,'* Les Annales. Conferencia* 
January, 1952. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Barreyre, Candide, May 24, 1928. 

10. Girandoux also cut out unessentials, such as the conversation between 
Fontgeloy, Schmeck* and Muck which took place in scene 1 of Act II. 
And in Act HI, instead of including seven rather picturesque scenes, he 
wrote two long and poignant ones, interrupted seven times by the en- 
trances and exits of characters; so a certain amount of diversity was 
assured in this new continuity. 

It is interesting to compare the lines Giraudoux had originally written 
for Fontgeloy with those actually spoken in the final version of the play. 
In the first version his lines are dull, lacking in interest. Scene 1, Act II 
was cut out at Jouvet's suggestion, and Fontgeloy made his first ap- 
pearance in scene 4, Act II. Scene 4 of Act II corresponded, in the 
original version, with scene 6 of Act II. One may compare one of 
Zelten's speeches in Act I, scene 3 of the original version with the one 
which appeared in scene 2 of Act I in the definitive play. The lines 
beginning "Siegfried a de plus hauts soutiens . . .** which appeared in 
scene 3 Act I, of the original script, were entirely eliminated on opening 

In the definitive version, Act I scene 1 became scene 5 of Act I. 

Scene 4 of the original version became scene 3 of the definitive version 
in Act II. (Le Theatre Complet de Jean Giraudoux, Variantes I.) 

Notes to Jouvet and Giraudoux 303 

11. Ambriere, "Les Grandes Premieres," Les Annales* Conferencia, 
January, 1952. 

12. Jeanne Lanvin, Giraudoux's friend, created costumes for Valentine 
Tessier and Lucienne Bogaert. Camille Cipra assisted Jouvet in the 
creation of stage sets and costumes. Because funds were low, old sets were 
used, with necessary alterations. Cipra*s contribution to the decor in 
Act I was a backdrop, representing the city of Gotha. Ibid. 

13. Pierre Renoir had just finished playing in Les Marchands de 
Cloire by Marcel Pagnol and Paul Nivoix. 

14. Ambriere, "Les Grandes Premieres,** Les Annales. Conferencia, 
January, 1952. 

15. Jouvet cast the play as follows: Valentine Tessier as Genevieve, 
Lucienne Bogaert as Eva, Gabrielle Calvi as Mme Patchkoffer, Odette 
Mouret as Mme Joepfl; Pierre Renoir as Siegfried, Louis Jouvet as 
Fontgeloy, Michel Simon as Pietri, Romain Bouquet as Robineau, August 
Boverio as Zelten, Jim Gerald as Waldorf, Paul Delauzac as Ledinger, 
Robert Moor as Schumann and Kratz, Paul Maraval as Muck and Ser- 
gent, Alexandre Rignault as Schupo and Schmidt, and Jean Vallauris 
as Meyer. 

16. Edouard Bourdet, "Le Theatre de Giraudoux," Collection Co- 
moedia, p. 11. 

17. Rouveyre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine, 9 * Mercure de France, 
July 1, 1928. 

18. Amriere, "Les Grandes Premieres," Les Annales. Conferencia, 
January, 1952. 

19. Ibid. 

20. La Revue tfHistoire du Theatre, I-II (1952), 51. 

21. Cremieux, "Le Theatre,** La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, June 1, 

22. Candide, May 24, 1928. 

23. Jaccopozzi was a lighting specialist in Paris. Jouvet to Aguettand 
in a letter, July 26, 1928 (unpublished). Written from the Hotel de la 
Poste-Egletons, Correze, Massif Central. 

24. Rey, Comoedia, January 31, 1929. 

25. Maurice Martin du Gard, "Suzanne,** Les Nouvelles Litter air es, 
February 2, 1929. 

26. Jouvet to Sarment in a letter from the Haute-Savoie, 1929 (un- 
published) . 

27. Jouvet to Aguettand in a letter, April 8, 1923 (unpublished). 

28. Marcel Achard to author, 1952. 

29. Journal, April 20, 1929. 

30. Strowski, Europeen, April 27, 1929. 

31. Jouvet dyed his hair blond for this part to bring out the purity of 
the character. 

32. Rey, "Jean de la Lune," Comoedia, April 18, 1929. 

33. Brisson, Le Temps, April 22, 1929. 

304 Notes to Jouvet and Giraudoux 

34. Lm Nouvelles Litterairres, October 19, 1929. 

35. Among the most prominent signatories were: Gaston Baty, Gerard 
Bauer, Edoiiard Bonrdet, Paul Claudel, Jean Coeteau, Jean Giraudoux, 
H.-R. Lenormand, Roger Martin dm Card, Maurice Martin du Card, 
Francois Mauriac, Louis Jouvet, Henri de Montherlant, Georges and 
Lndmilla Pitoeff, Jules Romains and Bernard Zimmer. 

36. Les Nouvelles LUteraires, October 19, 1929. 

37. Copeau was not appointed in 1929. He was in 1940, however, when 
Edouard Bourdet, the then director, was severely injured in an automo- 
bile accident and was obliged to resign on May 12, 1940. He occupied 
this post only long enough to produce a few plays, among which were: 
Le Paquebot Tenacity by Charles VMdrac and Twelfth Night by Shake- 
speare (trans. Lasearis). The Vichy government knew that Copeau was 
not on its side (Pascal, Copeau's son, was active in the Resistance) and 
so presented an ultimatum; either Pascal sever his relations with the 
underground or he, Copean, resign his post. On March 6, 1941, Gpean 
resigned and left for Pernand-Vergelesses in Bourgogne. Kurtz, Jacques 
Copeau, p. 207. 

38. Giraudoux, Litteratwe, p. 222. 

39. Maurice Martin du Gard, "Le Theatre," Les Nouvelles LUteraires, 
November 9, 1929. 

40. Ibid. 

41. Giraudoux, Litterature, p. 222. 

42. Rouveyre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine,** Mercure de France, 
December 15 $ 1929. 

43. See, Oeuvre, December 9, 1929. Amphitryon 38 opened on No- 
vember 8, 1929. In 1934 it was revived, but this time the stage sets were 
differently conceived, and the costumes and decor were more luxurious 
and perhaps more artistic. Giraudoux also altered Act III, especially 
pleasing the critic Maurice Martin du Gard. (Maurice Martin du Gard, 
"Le Theatre," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, October 13, 1934.) 

44. Brisson, Le Temps, May 5, 1930. 

45. D'Houville, Figaro, May 9, 1930. 

46. Bidou, "Chronique Dramatique," Journal des Debats, May 5, 1930. 

47. Barreyre, Ric et Roc, May 3, 1930. 

48. Pierre Brisson, Le Temps, May 5, 1930. 
55. Ibid. 

49. Jouvet was so anxious to achieve this brilliant effect that during 
one rehearsal he told the electrician that "60,000 bougies" did not suffice. 

50. Rateau, Folonte, April 29, 1930. 

51. Jouvet to Sarment in a letter, August 18, 1930 (unpublished). 

52. Larkin, "Two French Directors and their Two Theatres," Theatre 
Arts, XV, January, 1931. 

53. Comoedia, October 24, 1930. 

54. Larkin, "Two French Directors and their Two Theatres,** Theatre 
Arts, XV, January, 1931. 

Notes to Jouvet and Giraudoux 305 

56. Donogoo-Tonka is now part of the permanent repertory ol the 
Comedie-Frangaise. , 

57. Beauplan, PetUe Illustration, February 7, 1931. 

58. From February 3d until the 9th the troupe performed the five above 
mentioned plays at the Celestins Theatre in Lyon; on the 10th, llth and 
12th, the same works were given at the Theatre du Gymnase in Mar- 
seille; from the 13th to the 19th, at the Nouveau Casino in Nice; from 
the 21st to the 26th at the Teatro di Torino in Turin and from February 
23d to the 5th of March, at the Valle in Rome; on the 7th and 8th at the 
Academia dei Selenti in Florence; from the 10th to the 15th at Milan, 
either at the Manzoni or at the Sinodramatici theatre; on the 16th of 
March, at the Stade-Theatre in Zurich and on the 17th, 18th and 19th at 
the Comedie de Geneve; on the 21st, at the Cercle Royal in Antwerp and 
from the 23d to the 31st of March in Brussels, at the Galeries Saint- 
Hubert. There were 60,000 kilos of sets, costumes and other equipment. 
(Blanquet, "En regardant Louis Jouvet et sa compagnie faire leurs 
malles," Paris Soir, January 11, 1931). 

59. Paris Soir, February 23, 1931. 

60. "Le Theatre de Louis Jouvet a Fetranger," Le Mois, IV (1931), 20. 

61. Ibid. 

62. P. R.-L., Journal de Geneve, March 19, 1931. 

63. Matin-Beige, March 23, 1931. 

64. RivoUet, "Quelie est Fatmosphere des salles de theatre en Italic?** 
Intransigeant, April 5, 1931. 

65. Rousseau, Je suis Partout, April 18, 1931. 

66. Ibid. 

67. During Jouvet's absence from Paris, he had rented the Comedie 
des Champ-Elysees to Gerard Bauer who produced A. Pascal's Un Grand 

68. Maurice Martin du Gard, "L'Eau Fraiehe," Les Nouvettes Litte- 
raires, May 30, 1931. 

69. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
December 1, 1931. 

70. Boissy, Comoedia, October 30, 1931. 

71. Ibid. 

72. Maurice Martin du Gard, "Le Theatre," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, 
November 21, 1931. 

73. Rostand, Le Soir, December 1, 1931. 

74. The Journals of Andre Gide, III, 193. 

75. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
December 1, 1931. 

76. Rey, Comoedia, October 30, 193L 

77. Ibid. 

78. This is a partial list: L'Union Foraine de Paris, L'Union Artistiqne 
de France, L'Union des Artistes de Langue Franchise, le Syndicat des 
Artistes et Musiciens de Paris et de la Region Parisienne, FUnion Thea- 

306 Notes to Jouvet and Giraudoux 

trale des Grands Hotels, la Societe des Spectacles Modernes, FAssociation 
des Comediens Combattants, F Association de la Critique Dramatique et 
Mnsicale, FAssociation des Artistes Lyraqnes des Theatres, FAssociation 
Professionelle des Directenrs de Theatre de Province, FAssociation des 
Medecins de Theatres, FAssociation de Secours Mutuels des Artistes 
Dramatiques, La Boite a Sel, Association des Controleurs de Theatre, 
FAssociation Amicale des Admfnistrateurs de Theatre et Spectacle de 
Paris, Les Prevoyants dn Theatre, Les Amis da Chatelet, cenx de FOdeon, 
la Societe des Habilienses, La Societe des Antenrs et Compositenrs 
Dramatiques, La Societe dn Droit d'Anteur, L 5 Association des Regisseurs 
de Theatre, etc. Jonvet, "Le Theatre affaire d'etat on pour nne corpora- 
tion dn theatre," Le Temps, Jnly 31, 1933. 

79. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Qninzane," Mercure de France, 
Decemher 1, 1931. 

80. Ibid. 

81. Jonvet, "Le Theatre affaire d'etat on ponr nne corporation dn 
theatre," Le Temps, July 31, 1933. 

82. Daix, Echo, Octoher 20, 1931. 

83. Paris Midi, Novemher 31, 1931. 

84. Boissy, Comoedia, Novemher 6, 1931. 

85. Hnmhonrg, "Louis Jonvet," La Femme de France, November 29, 

86. Ibid. 

87. Jonvet was to play the leading role in the successful movice version 
of Topaze. Bing, "Lonis JonveC Fantasia, April, 1932. 

88. Lievre, "Theatre. Revne de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
December 1, 1931. 

89. Boll, Volonte, March 5, 1933. 

90. Boissy, Comoedia, March 2, 1933. 

1. D'Honville, Le Figaro, March 3, 1933. 

92. Dherelle, Paris Soir, April 2, 1933. Intermezzo was one of Jonvef s 
favorite plays and he could never nnderstand why it was unsuccessful. 

93. Lefevre, "La Situation actnelle dn Theatre,** Les Nouvettes Litte- 
raires, April 1, 1933. 

94. Ibid. 

95. Ibid. 

96. Jonvet, "Le Theatre affaire d'etat," Le Temps, Jnly 31, 1933. 

97. Ibid. 

98. Barreyre "Un bean theatre va ae fermer; celni de Lonis Jouvet,** 
Le Jour, October 14, 1933. 

99. Le Temps, December 11, 1933. 

100. Marcel Achard to author, 1952. 

101. Cocteau, "Ce qn'est la Machine Infernale," Echo, April 11, 1934. 

102. Jouvet, "Christian Berard,** Programme (La Machine Infernale), 

Notes to The Great Period 307 

103. Thomas, "Christian Berard," Revue Encyclopedique, Larousse 
Mensuel, April, 1949. 

104. Jouvet, "Christian Berard," Programme (La Machine Infernale), 

105. Bellessort, "La Semaine Drams&iqwf" Journal des Debats, April 
16, 1934. 

106. Brisson, Le Temps, April 16, 1934. 

107. Marcel Achard to author, 1952. 

108. Paul Achard, "Ne nous decouragons pas, nous dit Louis Jouvet,** 
Ami du Peuple, February 25, 1934. 


1. Jouvet, Reflexions, p. 211. 

2. Paris Soir, May 29, 1934. 

3. Novy, "Quand on quitte un theatre," Jour, May 29, 1934. 

4. Revue d'Histoire du Theatre, I-II (1952) 59. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Valentine Tessier left Jouvet's troupe after the production of Am- 
phitryon 38. 

7. The Constant Nymph, a novel by Margaret Kennedy, had been 
adapted for the English stage by Basil Dean and given its first perfor- 
mance at the New Theatre in London. Noel Coward played the role of 
Lewis Dodd and Edna Best that of Tessa. Several years later Basil Dean 
made a silent film of this novel with Elisabeth Bergner in the role of 
Tessa. In 1932, he made a talking film of it with Victoria Hopper and 
Brian Aherne as the stars. Colin, "Du roman a Louis Jouvet,** Pro- 
gramme (Tessa), 1934. 

8. Jouvet's lighting for Tessa was quite unusual. The atmosphere in 
Act I was bright and tender, reflecting both the delicate nature of 
Tessa's character and her precarious state of health. The lights came 
from tubes of mercury of various forms, which had been manufactured 
for Jouvet by the Verrerie Scientifique, specialists in this type of lighting. 

9. Maurice Martin du Card, "Le Theatre," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, 
November 17, 1934. 

10. Blanquet, "Louis Jouvet, professeur au Conservatoire,** Le Journal, 
October 14, 1934. 

11. Novy,. "Louis Jouvet, professeur au Conservatoire,** Le Jour, 
October 13, 1934. He had been permitted to sit in on some classes of 
Leloir, Sylvain, and Paul Mounet. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Jouvet's first class consisted of six boys and six girls. Renoir 
supplemented Jouvet's lectures with practical work. 

14. Ibid. 

15. Soko, "De la scene a Fecran," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, October 27, 

308 Notes to The Great Period 

16. Ibid. 

17. Berger, "Louis Jouvet," Excelsior, April 27, 1935. 

18. Treich, "Louis Jouvet," Paris Sor, August 28, 1936. The actor in 
question was Michel Simon. 

19. Jouvet, Reflexions, p. 151. 

20. Ibid., p. 154. 

21. Ibid., p. 157. 

22. Ibid. 9 p. 156. 

23. Ibid., p. 159. 

24. I&icL, p. 80. 

25. Ibid., p. 80. 

26. JfcieL, p. 61-76. 

27. Jose Neguer played the part of Paris, Madeleine Ozeray that of 
Helen, P. Morin was Ajax, P. Renoir was Ulysses. 

28. During this period Jouvet was acting in a movie, La Kermesse 
Heroique (Carnival in Flanders). The movie was directed by Jacques 
Feyder. His conception was highly original; he was influenced in his 
caharet scenes by Breughel, Jordaens, and Teniers; he owed a debt to 
Yermeer for the interiors. The scenario was very humorous, and the 
movie achieved wide success. Le Mois, December, 1935, p. 224. 

29. Jouvet, "L'Interpretation dramatique," L' Encyclopedic Frangaise, 
XVII (1935), 10-12. 

30. Ibid, 

31. Vaudoyer, "L'Ecole des Femmes," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, 
May 16, 1936. 

32. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
June 15, 1936. 

33. Brisson, Du Meilleur au Pire, p. 45. 

34. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
June 15, 1936. 

35. Brisson, Du Meilleur au Pire, p. 44. 

36. Ibid., p. 46, 

37. Brisson, Du Meilleur au Pire, p. 45. 

38. Dubech, Candide, 21 mai 1936. 

39. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
June 15, 1936. 

40. Bellessort, Le Plaisir du Theatre, p. 32. 

41. Sonrel, Traite de Scenographie. 

42. Brisson, Du Meilleur au Pire, p. 43. Another innovation intro- 
duced by Jouvet, of which the audience was unaware, was an elevator 
installed inside Agnes' house. This enabled the actors to go up and 
down rapidly. 

43. Jouvet to Bost in a letter, May 25, 1936 (unpublished). 

44. Revue tfHistoire du Theatre, I-H (1952), 65. 

45. Journal Officiel, August 19, 1936. 

Notes to The Great Period 309 

46. Barlatier, "II fant adapter le theatre aux temps modernes," Comoe~ 
dia, July 28, 1936. 

47. Mr. Flow was a mystery, the plot taken from a novel by Gaston 
Leromx and the scenario written by Henry Jeanson. It was fairly success- 
ful, but lacked dramatic intensity. Jouvet made two movies in 1936: 
Mister Flow and Les Bas-Fonds. 

48. Novy, "Steve Passeur chez Jouvet," Jour, January 7, 1937. 

49. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
April 1, 1937. 

50. Vlllusion Comique was written in 1636, and, when originally 
produced was fairly successful. In 1861 it was produced at the Comedie- 
Franaise under the direction of Edouard Thierry, who felt it necessary 
to notify the public beforehand of the liberties he felt obliged to take 
with the mise en scene. Vlllusion Comique had not been staged since 
1895, when Antoine produced it at the Odeon. Many critics complained 
of his ultra-realistic approach. Vittirio Rieti's music was a fitting ac- 
companiment to the play and sustained its spirit admirably. 

51. Lievre, "Theatre: Revue de la Quinzaine," Mercure de France, 
April 1, 1937, p. 358. 

52. Mahelot, Memoire. 

5'3. Lievre, Le Jour, February 16, 1937. 

54. Jouvet in Programme (L'lllusion Comique), 1937. 

55. Doumic, "L'lllusion de Corneille", Revue des Deux Mondes, March 1, 

56. Lievre, Le Jour, February 16, 1937. 

57. Maurice Martin du Card, "Le Theatre," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, 
February 20, 1937. 

58. Jouvet to Giraudoux in a letter, no date (unpublished). 

59. Jouvet, "Moliere," Conferencia, September 1, 1937, p. 282. 

60. Ibid., p. 288. 

61. Ibid., p. 290. 

62. Ibid., p. 292. 

63. Ibid. 

64. Jouvet, "L'Interpretation de Moliere," Conferencia, June 1, 1938, 
p. 665. 

65. Ibid., p. 667. 

66. Ibid., p. 668. 

67. Ibid., p. 670. 

68. When Jouvet thought he would write the book on Moliere he 
asked actors and friends of the theatre to lend or give him documents. 
Poulain, "Jouvet et Moliere,'* Candide, January 11, 1939. 

69. Giraudoux, Le Figaro, May 11, 1937. 

70. Delpech, "Jouvet illustre les mythes crees par Giraudoux," Les 
Nouvelles Litter aires, May 15, 1937. 

71. Ibid. 

310 Notes to The War Years 

72. Cremieux, "Le Theatre," La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise, June 1, 
1937, p. 956. 

73. Helisse, Impressions, June- July, 1937. 

74. Bauer, Echo de Paris, May 17, 1937. 

75. Frank, "Electre a PAthenee," Intransigeant, Marcli 23, 1937. 

76. "Warnold, "Louis Jouvet nous parle de L*Impromptu de Paris" Le 
Figaro, November 30, 1937. Jouvet meanwhile 3iad completed six movies: 
Mademoiselle Docteur, Un Comet de Bal, Drole de Drame, Forfaiture, 
Alibi, and Le Marseillaise. In Un Cornet de Bol, for the first and only 
time, Jouvet recited poetry in pictures. It was a highly pessimistic and 
ironic poem by Verlaine, Colloque Sentimental, which expressed Jouvet's 
own desolation of spirit. 

77. Ibid. 

78. Jouvet to Giraudoux in a letter, 1937, (unpublished). 

79. Jouvet to Giraudoux in a letter, no date (unpublished). 
SO. Jouvet, "Ou va le Theatre," Paris-Sow-, January 10, 1938. 

81. Ibid. 

82. Ibid. 

83. Paru-Soir, March 25, 1938. 

84. Cremieux, Lumiere, April I, 1938. 

85. Kemp, "Feuffleton du Journal Le Temps," Le Temps, March 28, 

86. Giraudoux, "Louis Jouvet et le Theatre d'Aujourd'hui," Beaux Arts, 
January 28, 1938. 

87. Ibid. 

88. Jaubert, "Louis Jouvet, magicien du decor," Petit Parisian, Febru- 
ary 1, 1935. 

89. Jouvet, "Marivaux," Conference, June 15, 1939, p. 30. 

90. Le Sage, "Die Einheit von Fouques Undine,** The Romanic Review, 
XLII (1951), 122. 

91. Audiat, Pari$*Soir y May 4, 1939. 

92. Ibid. 

93. Haedens, La Nouvelle Revue Frangaise* June 1, 1939, p. 1063. 

94. "Feuilleton du Journal le Temps," Le Temps, May 8, 1939. 

95. Edmond See, UCEuvre, May 12, 1939. 

96. Martin du Card, "Le Theatre", Les Nouvelles Litteraires, May 13, 

97. Haedens, **Le Theatre," La Nouvelle Revue Fran$aise 9 June 1, 
1939, p. 1064. 

98. Brassillach, Animateurs de Theatre, p. 32. 


1. Jouvet, "A roes Amis Latins," America, December 1945. 

2. Online opened on March 23, and played on until the 15th of May. 
Jomvet played the soldier Hans. 

Notes to The War Years 311 

3. Triolet, "Sons 1'Aile de Louis Jouvet," Les Lettres Frangaises, 
August 23, 1951. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 10. 

6. Joiivet to Brisson in a letter, Berne, May 2, 1941 (unpublished) . 

7. Louis Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 10. 

8. Jouvet's cast consisted of the following : Alexandra Rignault, Remain 
Bouquet, Maurice Cartel, Andre Moreau, Regis Outin, Paul Cambo, 
Stephane Audel, Jacques Michel Clancy, Emmanuel Descalzo, Madeleine 
Ozeray, Raymone, Annie Cariel, "Wanda Malachowska, Jacqueline Che- 
seaux, Micheline Buire-Clancy, and Elisabeth Prevost. 

9. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 21. 

10. In the cast, however, there were some who wanted to return to 
France, namely: Raymone, Jacqueline Cheseaux, Charlotte Delho (secret- 
ary), Alexandra Rignault, Rene Dalton (stage manager), and Elisabeth 
Prevost, who left the troupe in 1942. The following came from France 
to replace them: Jacques Thiery, Leo Lapara, Monique Melinand, Geor- 
gina Tisel, Catherine Moissan, Henriette Risner-Morineau, and Vera 

11. Louis Jouvet, Reflexions, p. 9. 

12. He gave Brazilian, Portuguese, and Argentinian artists and com- 
posers the opportunity to help him: four artists, Eduardo Anahory, Joas- 
Maria Santos, Enrique Liberal, Ana-Ines Carcano and two composers, 
Paul Misraki and Renzo Massarani. 

13. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 26. 

14. Jouvet, Spectateur, March 18, 1947. 

15. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 27. 

16. Ibid., p. 28. 

17. The electrical equipment and loudspeakers were also food for the 

18. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 27. 

19. Ibid. 

20. Ibid., p. 29. 

21. Ibid., p. 31. 

22. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 36. 

23. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 40. 

24. Ibid., p. 42. 

25. The actors who withdrew were: Mme Catherine Moissan, Georgina 
Tisel; Andre Moreau, Paul Camho, Regis Outin, Stephane Audel (military 
reasons), Jacques Clancy (military reasons). 

26. Ibid., p. 45. 

27. Maceron, "Retour de Louis Jouvet,* La Bataille, February 22, 1945. 

28. Jouvet, Les Etoiles, June 12, 1945. 

29. Carat, "Louis Jouvet," Monde Nouveau Para, No. 53 and 54, 1951. 

30. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 46. 

31. Jouvet, Prestiges, p. 56. 

312 Notes to Reconquering the Parisian Public 


1. (Jouvet, **On est Melteur en scene comme on est amoureHX," Les 
Lettres Frangaises, August 23, 1951.) 

2. Jouvet*& children had grown up during his absence. His oldest 
daughter was now 33, his son was 29 and his younger daughter was 22. 
Although he had always been on good terms with his wife, she and 
Jouvet had been separated lor many years, and she played no part what- 
soever in his theatrical life. 

3. When Jouvet produced Ondine in 1939, he altered the entire lighting 
effects the day before the opening. 

4. Jouvet, "Dans les Yeux de Giraudoux," Les Lettres Francoises, 
May 14, 1945. 

5. Ibid. 

6. "Louis Jouvet cherche deux millions pour La Folle de Chaillot" 
Paris Soir, August 30, 1945. 

7. Le Figaro, October 30, 1945. 

8. Blanquet, Courrier de Paris, November 9, 1945. 

9. Paquin, Lanvin and Paton made similar contributions to the pro- 

10. Warnold, **Louis Jonvet nous parle de La Folle de Chaillot" Le 
Figaro, Novembre 13, 1945. 

11. Bourdet, "Visages de Jouvet," Revue de Paris, February, 1946. 

12. Chambillon, Mondes, June 24, 1945. 

13. The music was composed by Henri Sauguet. 

14. The costumes were designed by Christian Berard out of the relics 
given or sold to Jouvet. 

15. Arnold, L'Avenir du Theatre, p. 109. 

16. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 53. 

17. IbM., p. 153. 

18. Berard was sometimes so convinced of his lack of ability that he 
would refuse to design any stage sets. In the case of L'Ecole des Fern- 
mes, he was so desperate for ideas that he wrote Jouvet a lengthy letter, 
declaring himself sterile in. ideas and incapable of designing suitable 
sets for the play. Enclosed in the letter, however, was a rough sketch 
of the decor he visualized, which later was developed and used. 

Bourdet, "Visages de Jouvet," Revue de Paris, February, 1946. 

19. Ibid. 

20. Bourdet, "Visages de Jouvet,*' Revue de Paris, February 1946. 

21. The three Madwomen passed in a circle around the Madwoman of 
Chaillot's bed and the rest of the visitors walked in a concentric circle; 
this not only emphasized the circular aspect of this act but created a 
series of incessantly changing and highly colorful pictures of varied tones 
and harmonies. 

Paul Guth, "Scenes de la vie theatrale," La Revue Theatrale, mai- 
juin 1946. 

22. Mauchamps, Spectateur, November 26, 1945. 

Notes to Jouvet and Moliere 313 

23. Gautier, Le Figaro, November 20, 1945. 

24. Giraudoux, La Polle de Chaillot, p. 13. 

25. Mauchamps, Spectateur, November 26, 1945. 

26. Brunschwik, Pays, December 13, 1945. 

27. Mauchamps, Spectateur, November 26, 1945. 

28. Haedens, L'Epoque, January 11, 1946. 

29. Marcel, "La Folle de Chaillot," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, Decem- 
ber 27, 1947. 

30. Lang, Concorde, December 31, 1945. 

31. Jouvet-Demangeat, January 15, 1947, (unpublished). 

32. Claude Dufresne, "Qu'est devenu le Cartel?", Opera, July 30, 1947. 

33. Ibid. 

34. Thouret, "Culture et Prestige par Louis Jouvet," L'Enseignement, 
May 15, 1945. 

35. Gammond to author, 1952. 

36. Thouret, "Culture et Prestige par Louis Jouvet," L'Enseignement, 
May 15, 1945. 

37. Claudel, "Une lettre de Claudel a Jouvet," Le Figaro, June 4, 1946. 

38. Claude Hervin, Liberation, June 13, 1946. 

39. Kemp, Le Monde, June 12, 1946. 

40. Marcel, "L'Apollon de Marsac," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, May 1, 

41. Maulnier, "Le Nouveau Spectacle de Louis Jouvet," Revue de la 
Pensee Frangaise, August 1947, p. 42. 

42. Gabriel Marcel, loc. cit. 

43. "Jouvet a le gout du malheur," Samedi Soir, June 21, 1947. 

44. Jouvet made the following movies: in 1940, Un Tel Pere et Fils, 
Serenade; 1946, Un Revenant, Copie Conforme; 1947, Quai des Orfevres. 

45. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 124. 

46. Ibid. 

47. Jouvet, "Acteur de Theatre," February 1950 (unpublished). 

48. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 34. 

49. Ibid., p. 136. 

50. Ibid., p. 139. 

51. Ibid., p. 142. 


1. Jouvet, Ecoute mon Ami, p. 33, 

2. Jouvet's lectures at the Conservatoire (unpublished). 

3. Ibid. 

4. Jouvet, Preface aux (Euvres de Moliere, 1952. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Jouvet, "A FOmbre de Moliere," Conferencia, October 15, 1947. 

7. Jouvet, Preface aux CEuvres de Moliere, 1952, 

8. Ibid. 

314 Notes to Jouvet and Moliere 

9. Ibid. 

10. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 96. 

11. Jouvet, "De Moliere a Giraudoux," Conferencia, August 15, 1946. 

12. I&wf. 

13. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 178. 

14. Ifeitf., p. 179. 

15. Ibid., p. 26. 

16. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 19. 

17. Novy, Le Spectateur, December 23, 1947. 

18. Jouvet returned to the original spelling of Dom Juan. 

19. Jouvet, Temoignages, p. 61. 

20. Alter, Le Figaro, December 20, 1947. 

21. Jouvet was the sixteenth actor to undertake the role of Dom Juan. 
Among Ms eminent predecessors were Robert Kemp, who played Dom 
Juan at the Odeon in 1841; Boccage in 1843; Valbelle in 1879; Andre 
Calmettes in 1886; Marquet in 1905; and Jean Dubucourt in 1922. At 
the Comedie-Frangaise, Dom Juan was played by Geoffroy in 1847, Bres- 
gant in 1868, Haphael Dufios in 1907, and Maurice Escande in 1925. 

22. Jouvet, ** A propos du Dom Juan de Moliere," Occident, Decem- 
ber 20, 1947. 

23. Maulnier, Le Figaro Litteraire, February 21, 1948. 

24. Carre/our, December 31, 1947. 

25. Michel Etcheverry to author, 1952. 

26. Ambriere, Opera, December 31, 1947. 

27. Ibid. 

28. Dussane, "Dom Juan de Moliere, mise en scene de Louis Jouvet,** 
Mercure de France, March 1, 1948, p. 511. 

29. Brasillach, Animateurs de Theatre, p. 45. 

30. Ambriere, Opera, December 31, 1947. 

31. Marcel, "Dom Juan,** Les Nouvettes Litteraires, January 8, 1948. 

32. Ibid. 

33. A. F., "Christian Berard repond aux critiques de Dom Juan,** 
L*(Euvre t January 23, 1948. 

34. Many critics found grave fault with Jouvet's directing, Paul Gail- 
lard felt that Sganarelle's sneezing at the beginning and end of the play 
was ridiculous (Gaillard, Les Lettres Franchises, January 1, 1948). He 
added that Dom Louis* reproaches in Act IV, scene 4, should not have 
been pronounced while among a group of joking young valets. Thirdly, 
when Elvire came to warn and plead with Dom Juan (Act IV, scene 4), 
she should not have been staring into the audience when speaking her 
lines, but rather talking to him. 

Francis Ambriere felt that the scene with M. Dimanche (Act IV, scene 
3) was full of routine buffoonery and therefore lacked comic spont- 
aneity. (Ambriere, Opera, December 31, 1947). Andre Alter remarked 
that throughout the peasant scenes in Act II, Jouvet and his cast spoke 
with a Marseillais accent, whereas Moliere wrote the scenes in a conven- 

Notes to J0uvet and Moliere 315 

tional jargon, which could be compared to the patois spoken in central 
or western France. (Altar, L'Aube, November 25, 1947). 

Defending himself against this last criticism, Jonvet replied that he 
feared that modern audiences would not believe in the authenticity of 
his peasants unless they spoke with a pronounced Marseillais accent. 
Besides, maintained Jouvet, Moliere placed this scene at a seashore, 
perhaps the Normandy coast or the South of France, in which case, 
Jouvet's thesis would hold true. With the adoption of 'the Marseillais 
accent, he maintained that the scenes gained in variety and freshness. 
(Jouvet, "Le Point de Vue du Metteur en Scene," La Revue tfHistoire 
du Theatre, (IV, 1951). 

35. Moliere, Dom Juan, p. 213. 

36. Ibid., p. 213. 

37. Jouvet, "Le Point de Vue du Metteur en Scene," La Revue d*Hi$~ 
toire du Theatre (IV, 1951). 

38. Berard, "Christian Berard repond aux Critiques de Dom Juan," 
L'CEuvre, January 23, 1948, 

39. Ambriere, Opera, December 31, 1947. 

40. Gaillard, Les Lettres Frangaises, January 1, 1948. 

41. Moliere, Dom Juan (Act I, scene 2), p. 173. 

42. Marcel, "Dom Juan," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, January 8, 1948. 

43. Gaillard, Les Lettres Frangaises, January 1, 1948. 

44. Kemp, Le Monde, January 3, 1948. 

45. Jouvet, "Le Dom Juan de Moliere retrouvera-t-il un public?", 
Combat, December 20, 1947. 

46. Ambriere, Opera, December 31, 1947. 

47. In Egypt, Jouvet and his troupe performed in Cairo and Alexan- 
dria. For Egyptian audiences they performed UEcole des Femmes, Dom 
Juan, Ondine, and Knock; and an evening show consisting of three one- 
act plays: L'Appollon de Marsac, Le Folle Journee, La Coupe Enchantee. 
For the rest of his tour he performed only L'Ecole des Femmes. 

48. France Dimanche, April 14, 1948. 

49. Ibid. 

50. Cezan, "Jouvet retrouve Paris," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, July 1, 

51. Ibid. 

52. Cezan, "Jouvet retrouve Paris," Les Nouvelles Litteraires, July 1, 

53. Valogne, "Jouvet dit," Arts, February 4, 1949. 

54. Guilly, Combats, February 6, 1949. 

55. Cogniat, Arts, February 25, 1949. 

56. Brisson, Le Figaro Litteraire, February, 1949. 

57. Jouvet, Le Figaro Litteraire, March 1, 1949. 

58. Cezan, "De Moliere if Giraudoux avec Louis Jouvet," Les Nouvel- 
les Litteraires, October 28, 1948. 

59. Georges Braque created the decor and the costumes with the as- 

Notes to Jouvet and Moliere 

sistance of Deguilloux, Desbays, Demangeat, and Karinska. Moliere, of 
course, never described the scene, but in Act II, Dorine states: "Ma- 
dame will presently come into the room below." Jouvet and Braque 
therefore reasoned that the room in which the action took place was at 
ground level, or below, and consequently rather dark. Braque's fixed 
set consisted of a gray room with a black ceiling, from which hung a 
chandelier. On the rear flat was a tapestry, Louis XIV style, colored in 
two shades of dull gray. On either side of the room were two large 
windows and, in the rear, a double door, several braque-yellow chairs, 
and a dark green armchair. 

In contrast to the dismal sets, the costumes were bright and colorful, 
with the exception of Tartuffe's. Dorine wore a yellow and brown dress 
with the lowest neckline of any costume in the play, thus justifying 
Tartuffe's Hues: "Cover up that bosom, which I can't endure to look on" 
(Act III, scene 2). Elmire, played by Monique Melinand, was dressed 
in a colorful striped dress to accentuate the corseted figure. For the 
last act, Elmire wore a dainty light blue gown. Marianne, played by 
Dominique Blanchar, was dressed in gray with converging blue stripes. 
Valere, the suitor, played by Jean Hichar, wore the fanciest costume: 
blue with silver embroidery, and the most elegant wig. (Roderick Mac 
Arthur, "Georges Braque and the Tartuffe Tradition,' Theatre Arts, 
April, 1950.) Braque intended to dress Tartuffe with more ecclesiastical 
austerity, but at Jouvet's request, lace cuffs, a velvet tie, a flowing cape, 
and a large hat were supplied. 

60. Moliere, Tartuffe, Act I, scene 2. (Brander Matthews, The Chief 
European Dramatists,* 9 Houghton Mifflin Co. 1916, N.Y.). 

61. Ibid., Act III, scene 6. 

62. Ibid., Act III, scene 7, p. 288. 

63. Ibid* p. 288. 

64. Jouvet, "Sur Tartuffe," December 2, 1950 (unpublished). 

65. Duche, JLe Figaro Litteraire, January 28, 1950. 

66. Jean-Jacques Gautier, Le Figaro, January 27, 1950. 

67. Lemarchand, Combat, January 27, 1950. 

68. Jouvet placed the table under which Orgon hid in the center of 
the stage rather than to the right as had done his predecessors. 

69. Maulnier, "Louis Jouvet suscite une Nouvelle Guerre de Tartuffe,'* 
La Bataille, January SI, 1950. 

70. Triolet, Les Lettres Frangaises, February 2, 1950. 

71. Abram, Liberation, January 28, 1950. 

72. What disturbed Eobert Kemp was the fact that the door placed at 
the rear of the stage assumed almost the importance of a principal, since 
Dorine kept opening and closing it so frequently. Robert Kemp, Le 
Monde, January 27, 1950. 

73. Jouvet, "Le Point de Vue du Metteur en Scene," Revue 
du Theatre. (IV), 1951. 

74. Kemp, "Louis Jonvet,** Le Monde, January 27, 1950, 

Notes to Conclusion 317 

75. Michel Etclieverry to author, 1952. 

76. Diissane, "Tartuffe," Mercure de France, March 1, 1950, p. 510. 

77. Maulnier, "Le Tartuffe de Louis Jonyet," La Revue de la Pensee 
Frangaise, March, 1950. 

78. Schwartsman to Jouvet in a letter, December 28, 1950. 

79. Jouvet to Schwartsman in a letter, December 2, 1950 (unpublished). 

80. Among the books Jouvet read at this period were: War and Peace 
by Tolstoi, Corrida by Paco Tolosa, Conscience de Soi by Lavelle, Pen- 
sees Religieuses by Hugo, Life of St. Teresa, L'lmposture by Bernanos, 
UAme de la Danse by Sazanova, the works of Renan, Alice in Wonder- 
land, Attente de Dieu by Simone Veil, the works of Mathurin Regnier, 
Asmodee by Mauriac, Rideau Baisse by Baty, the correspondence of Dos- 
toyevsky, Void L'Homme by Suares, Propos sur L'Esthetique by Alain, 
UEomme et sa Destinee by Lecomte du. Nouy, Saint Ignacius, an Antho- 
logy of Greek Poetry compiled by Brasillach, and the Psychologie de 
I'Art by Malraux. 

81. Jouvet, Le Figaro, June 4, 1950. 

82. Jouvet letter from Algiers, unpublished, 1950, 

83. Duhamel, "Le Souvenir de Louis Jouvet'*, France-Illustration, Sep- 
tember 1, 1951. 

84. Jouvet-Etcheverry letter, August 9, 1950 (unpublished). 

85. A. Viliette, juin, 1914. 

86. Theatre Arts, May 1951. 

87. Madame Gammond to author, 1952. 

88. Jean-Paul Sartre to author, 1952, 

89. Ibid. 

90. Ibid. 

91. Michel Etcheverry to author, 1952. 

92. Jouvet-Bost letter, February 24, 1951, (unpublished). 

93. Jouvet-Bost letter, August 10, 1951 (unpublished). 

94. Ambriere, "Pierre Renoir", Conferencia, April 1952. 

95. Letter from Pere Laval to Madame Dussane, August 30, 1951, (un- 

96. Carlier, Combat, August 22, 1951. 

97. Ibid. 


1. Jouvet, Reflexions, p. 207. 

2. Class notes of Jouvet at the Conservatoire. 

3. Jouvet, Ecoute mon Ami, p. 65. 



Books and articles 

January 25, 1926 "Technique du Theatre: Le Metier Theatral," un- 

February 2, 1928 "Louis Jouvet Nous Parle de Son Theatre, 9 * Le Soir. 
April 20, 1929 "Le Comedien et le Personnage," Monde. 

1933 "A FInstar de Cuvier," Les Cahiers du Sud, CLIV. 
Translated March, 1936 as "The Elizabethan Theatre 
Reconstruction after the Manner of Cuvier," Theatre 

July 31, 1933 "Le Theatre Affaire d'etat ou pour une Corporation 

du Theatre,** Le Temps. 

1934 "Christian Berard," Programme (La Machine Infer- 

1934 "Victoire du Theatre sur le Cinema,'* Le Mois, 


February 20, 1935 "Le Theatre et Cinema," Le Moniteur. 
May, 4, 1935 "Problemes du Theatre Contemparain," Revue Eeb- 

domadaire. (Included in Reflexions du Comedien, 

1951.) Translated May, 1936 as "Success, the Theatre's 

Only Problem,** Theatre Arts. 



June 1, 1935 

July, 1935 
August 10, 1935 

December, 1935 
June 1,1936 
July 1,1936 

February, 1937 
February 16, 1937 

September 1, 1937 
January 10, 1938 

June 1, 1939 



April 8-9, 1945 
May 14, 1945 
May 23, 1945 

June 12, 1945 
June 24, 1945 
July 11, 1945 


October 30, 1945 
December, 1945 

"Victor Hugo et le Theatre," Arts et Metiers Graphi- 

ques. (Included In Reflexions du Comedien, 1951.) 

"Plein Air de Theatre,** Rails de France. 

**La Disgrace de Becque," Revue Hebdomadaire. 

(Included in Reflexions du Comedien, 1951.) 

"L'Art du Comedien,** Encyclopedic francdse. Vol. 

XVH, under the title **L*Interpretation Dramatique." 

"Beaumarchais Vu par un Comedien,** Revue Uni- 

verselle. (Included in Reflexions du Comedien, 1951.) 

"Confidences: Le Metier de Directeur de Theatre," 

Conferencia. (Included in Reflexions du Comedien, 


"LIHusion Comique,** Programme. 

"Nous Avons Tente de Faire du Nouveau qui Soit 

la Suite Legitime du Passe,** Paris Soir. 

"Moliere,** Conferencia, 

"Ou Va le theatre, 7 * Paris Soir. (Included in Re- 

flexions du Comedien, 1951.) 

"Marivaux, Le Theatre et les Personnage,** Confe* 


Preface to La Practique pour Fabriquer Scenes et 
Machines de Theatre by Nicolas SabbattinL Neu- 
chatel, Ides et Calendes. 

Prestiges et Perspectives du Theatre Frangais : Quatre 
Annees de Tournee en Amerique Latine. Paris, Gal* 

"Un Comedien Fran$ais: Romain Bouquet,** Le 

"Dans les Yeux de Giraudoux,** Les Lettres Fran- 

"Le Theatre Est un Metier Honteux,** Volontes. 
(Included in Reflexions du Comedien, 1951.) 

Les Etoiles. 
Le Monde. 

"A une Jeune Fille sur la Vocation," Les Nouvettes 
Epitres. (Included in Temoignages sur la Theatre, 


"Tradition et Traditions,** Plaisir de France. 

Le Figaro. 

"A Mes Amis Latins,** America* 


December, 1945 
June 28, 1946 


July, 1946 
My 23, 1946 

August 18, 1946 


March 18, 1947 


October 15, 1947 

December, 1947 
December 20, 1947 


January, 1948 
March, 1948 

May 13, 1948 
November 15, 1948 

February 10, 1949 


"Jean Giraudoux," Programme (La Folle de Chaillot). 
"La Pensee Franchise an Service de la Paix," (Note 
hie an congres). 

"A propos de la Mise en Scene de La Folle de Chatt- 
lot" Constellation, LXV, (Included in Temoignages 
sur le Theatre, 1952.) 

"Eloge du Desordre," Intermede. (Included In Te- 
moignages sur le Theatre, 1952.) 
"Le Theatre Rend aux Hommes la Tendresse," Les 
Etoiles, (Included in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 

"De Moliere a Giraudoux," Conferencia. 

Preface to Memoires de Goldoni. Paris, Editions du 

Preface to Entree des Artistes by Henri Jeanson. 
Paris, Nouvelle edition. 
Le Spectateur. 

"Dom Juan," Programme (Dom Juan). 
"Le Royaume des Imaginaires," Conferencia. (In- 
cluded in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 1952.) 
"A propos du Dom Juan de Moliere," Occident. 
"Le Dom Juan de Moliere Retrouvera-t-il un Public," 

"Verites sur le Cinema," Cinemonde. (Included in 

Temoignages sur le Theatre, 1952,) 

"Rencontre du Decor,** Style en France. (Included in 

Temoignages sur le Theatre, 1952.) 

Preface to Les Chevaliers de Flllusion by Pierre 

Bertin. Paris, Editions du Bateau Ivre. 

"Les Amateurs," Cahiers $Art Dramatique. 

"Presentation des Classiques a L'ecran," Revue The* 

atrale. (Included in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 


"Mecanique du Theatre," Education Nationale. (In- 
cluded in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 1952.) 
"Pourquoi J'ai Monte Dom Juan" Conferencia. 
(Included in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 1952). 
"Les Fourberies de Scapin," in Programme de la 
Compagnie Madeleine Renaud et Jean Louis Bar- 
rault, Theatre Marigny. 
"Hommage a Jacques Copeau," Les Nouuelles 




June 15, 1949 "Knock," Conferencia. (Included in Temoignages sur 

le Theatre, 1952.) 

May 4, 1949 "Hommage a Georges Pitoeff," Opera. 

June 28, 1949 "Jean Giraudoux" (Pour Finauguration de la plaque 

commemorative qui a ete pose sur la maison ou 
mourut Jean Giraudoux, unpublished) . 

July, 1949 "Situation du Theatre," Cahiers frangais d'informa- 


December, 1949 "Commis Voyageur en Art Dramatique,' Caliban. 

Febraary9,1950 "Acteur de Theatre" (unpublished). 

December 2, 1950 "Sur Tartuffe" (unpublished). 

November, 1950 "Pourquoi Pai Monte Tartuffe" Les Annales: Con- 
ferencia. (Included in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 

1950 "Notes sur FEdifice Dramatique," Architecture et 


1950 Christian Berard. Boston, Institute of Contemporary 

1951 Reflexions du Comedien. Paris, Librairie Theatrale. 
(Included are the following undated essays: "A 
Chaque Age de ma Yie"; "Chacun Yoit Midi a sa 
Porte w ; "Pourquol Monte-on une Piece"; "Condam- 
nes a Expliquer.") 

February 24, 1951 "Christian Berard au Theatre," Vingt-cinq and tfele- 
gance a Paris, 1925-50. 

August 23, 1951 "On Est Metteur en Scene comme On Est Amou- 
reux," Les Lettres frangaises. 

August, 1951 "Propos sur le Comedien," Les Annales: Conferencia. 

(Included in Temoignages sur le Theatre, 1952.) 
1951 "Le Point de Vue du Metteur en Scene," La Revue 

tfHistoire du Theatre, IV. 
1951 Preface to Les Fourberies de Scapin by Jacques 

Copeau. Paris, Aux Editions du Seuil. 

1951 Preface to Moliere en Afrique Noire by Pierre Ringel. 
Paris, Presses du livre frangais. 

1952 Preface to Oeuvres de Moliere. Nice, Editions Pardo. 
1952 Ecoute Mon Ami. Paris, Flammarion. 

1952 Temoignages sur le Theatre. Paris, Flammarion, 1952. 

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Candide, May 24, 1928. 

Ric et Roc, May 3, 1930. 

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Bauer, Gerard. Echo de Paris, May 17, 1937. 

Bazin, Germain. Modern Painting. Paris, Hyperion, 1951. 

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Beanplan, Albert. "La Mort de FActeur," Esprit, November, 1951. 
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Dherelle, Claude. **Lorsque Lonis Jonret, pendant FEnter*acte Continue a 
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Diderot, Denis. Paradoxe snr le Comedien. Paris, Editions nord-sud, 1949, 

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Dubech, Lucien. Candide, April 2, 1928; May 21, 1936. 

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Abram, Paul: Paris 

Achard, Marcel: Paris 

Agnettand, Lncien: Paris 

Albane, Blanche (Mme Georges Duhamel) : Paris 

Amhriere, Francois: Paris 

Brlsson, Pierre: Paris 

Bost, Pierre: Paris 

Chancerel, Leon: Paris 

Daste, Marie-Helene: New York 

Duhamel, Georges: Paris 

Dnssane, B.: Paris 

Etcheverry, Michel: Paris 

Gamxnond, Jacqueline: Paris 

Girandonx, Jean-Pierre: Paris 

Rouche, Jacques: Paris 

Sarment, Jean: Paris 

Sartre, Jean-Paul: Ravenna, Italy 

Tessier, Valentine : Paris 

Vildrac, Charles: Paris 

Zimmer, Bernard : Paris 


(Only when Jouvet played a role is the name of a character included) 

Abram, Paul, 249 

Achard, Marcel, plays by: Mai- 
borough s'en va-t-en Guerre, 95; 
Jean de la Lime, 133-36 ; Domino, 
147; Petrus, 151; Le Corsaire, 

Achard, Paul, 107, 122 

Acoustics, 163-64 

Acting, Jouvet on, 49-50, 160-64, 
168-69, 199, 234, 262-63 

Aguecheek, Sir Andrew (charac- 
ter), 38-39, 272 

Agnettand, Lucien, 63, 110 

Aherne, Brian, 305ra.7 

Alexandre (of the Comedie-Fran- 
$aise), 108 

AUain-Dhurtal, 137 

Ambriere, Francois, cited, 130, 239, 
241, 312iU4; quoted, 237, 243 

Amedee et les Messieurs en Rang 
(Romains), 85-87, 275 

Amour, Livre d'Or, U (Tolstoi), 
65, 274 

Amour Medecin, V (Moliere), 26, 
28, 33, 271 

Amour qui Passe, L* (Quintero 
brothers), 98-99, 276 

Amphitryon 38 (Giraudoux), 136- 
38, 141, 142, 158, 280 

Anahory, Eduardo, 309nJ,2 

Andler, Charles, 127, 190 

Annonce Faite a Marie, I? (Clau- 
del), 200, 201, 206, 222-24, 287, 

Anselm (character), 59, 274 

Antigone (character), 64, 274 

Antoine, Andre: and naturalism, 
8-9 ; and Jouvet, 99 ; criticism of 
lie Coup du Deux Decembre, 
123, 124 

Apollon de Marsac, U (Giraudoux) , 
200, 226, 287, 288-89 

Appia, Adolphe, 41 

Archbishop of Lima (character), 
46, 272 

Armand (character), 143, 281 

Arnolphe (character), 13, 170-76, 

Artisan, meaning of, 93 

Association France- Amerique, 202 

Atelier Theatre, 118 

Athenee Theatre, Jouvet as direc- 
tor of, 157-259, 283-90 

Audel, Stephane, 309nn.8, 25 

Augier, Emile, 48, 52 

Auric, Georges, 96, 97 

Autolycus (character), 58, 274 

^uare,L'(Moliere), 33, 47, 253, 271 



Bacque, Andre, 60, 295n.79 

Balzac, Honore de, 14, 233-34 

Barberine (Mussel), 31, 36, 37, 271 

Barrault, Jean-Louis, 208, 244 

Bathori, Jane, 295ra.79 

Baty, Gaston, 89, 118, 176, 241 

Bava L'Africain (Zimmer), 104-6, 

Bay, Gustave, 110 

Beauplan, Robert de, 141 

Becque, Henri, 165 

Behr, Suzanne, 111 

Belasco, David, 48 

Bella, Alice, 102 

Belle au Bois, La (Snpervielle), 
200, 287-88 

Berard, Christian: stage sets for: 
I/a Machine In/ernaZe, 151*52, 
Ulllusion, 178, La Folle de Chail- 
lot, 215-17, Les Bonnes, 225, Dom 
Juan, 242, Les Fourberies de 
Scapin, 245; costumes for: La 
Machine Infernale, 153, for La 
Guerre de Troie, 185, for La 
Folle de Chattlot, 217, 310 n.14, 
for L'Ecole de Femmes, 310 
nJ8; death of, 246 

Bergner, Elisabeth, 305^.7 

Bernard, Leon, 171 

Bernard, Tristan, 52 

Bernstein, Henri, 48 

Berton, Claude, 116 

Best, Edna, 305n.7 

Bidou, Henri, 96, 139 

Billy, Andre, 102, 103 

Bing, Suzanne, 42, 294rc.43, 295.79 

Blanchar, Dominiqne, 314W.59 

Blanchette (Brieux), 9, 49 

Blum, Leon and Rene, 110 

Bogaert, Lucienne, 214, 294n.43, 
3017MU2, 15 

Bogar, Robert, 111 

Bois de Boulogne, 12, 265 

Boissard, Maurice, 76 

Boissy, Gabriel, 53 

Boll, Andre, 123, 148 

Bonnard, Pierre, 9 

Bonnes, Les (Genet), 224-26, 289 

Bordeaux, Henri, 58 

Bost, Pierre, 106, 175, 256-57 

Bouquet, Rene, 294/i,43 

Bouquet, Remain, 137, 16*7; death 

of, 204; at Vieux Columbier, 
294n.43; as teacher at Copeau's 
school of acting, 295ra.79; at 
Comedie de Champs Ely sees, 
297?i.42; 301ra.l5; with troups 
in South America, 309ra.# 

Bourdet, Edouard, 176, 177, 207, 

Boverio, August, 301n.l5 

Braque, Georges, 313?i.59 

Brid'Oison (character), 49, 273 

Brisson, Pierre: quoted, 105, 153, 
245; cited, 123, 139, 172, 173 

Britannicus (Racine), 13 

British Isles, Jouvet in, 36-37, 226 

Brochard, Louis, 295ra.79 

Brothers Karamazov, The (Dosto- 
evski), 18, 35-36, 47, 272 

Brunschwik, Rene, 219 

Bruyez, Rene, 120 

Buenos Aires, see Latin American 

Buire-Clancy, Micheline, 309n.# 

Burrhus (character), 13 

Calixte (character), 92 
Calvi, Gabrielle, 301nJ5 
Cambo, Paul, 309nn.#,25 
Canada: invitation to, 199; Jouvet 

tour in, 254 
Cantique des Cantiques (Girau- 

doux), 190, 285 

Cantonnier (character), 49, 273 
Capitant, Rene, 212 
Caprices de Marianne, Les (Mus- 

set), 52 

Capus, Alfred, 48 
Carcaon, Ana-Ines, 309nJ5 
Cariel,, Annie, 167, 309re^ 
Carrosse du Saint Sacrement, 

Le (Merimee), 46, 47, 58, 65, 


Cartel (theatre), 118-21 
Casares, Maria, 256 
Castel, Maurice, 203, 309/uS 
Celerier, 292w.I5 
Chabert, Colonel (character), 14 
Chagrin du Palais de Han, Le 

(Laloy), 19 

Chambolin (character) , 52, 273 
Champsmesle% Charles, 52 
Charov, 109 


Chateau de Cartes (Passenr), 177, 


Chateau du Peuple, 12, 265 
Chennevierre, Georges, 295ra.79 
Cheseaux, Jacqueline, 309?m.8, 10 
Chiffonnier, le (character), 214, 


Chifoliau, Emile, 294n.43 
Chotin, Andre, 294r*.43 
Choumansky, Olga, 114 
Cid, Le (Corneille), 177 
Cipra, Camille, 301reJ2 
Clancy, Jacques Michel, 309nn.#, 


Claudel, Paul, 201, 222-24 
Cocteau, Jean, 151-53 
Cogniat, Raymond, 245 
Colanerie, 98 
Collin, Else (Mme Jouvet), 20, 


Colomer, Andre, 292raJ5 

Comedie des Champs-Elysees : ex- 
hibition of modern paintings at, 
106-7, Jouvet gives up, 150-53; 
difficulties in running, 157 

Comedie-Franc,aise, 107; candi- 
dacy of Jacques Copeau for di- 
rectorship of, 135-36, 302iw.35, 
37; metteurs en scene for, 176; 
celebration of tricentenary anni- 
versary of Le Cid, 177; and Dom 
Juan, 235 

Comedien, defined by Jouvet, 168- 

Conservatoire : Jouvet fails entran- 
ce examinations to, 11; election 
of Jouvet as professor at, 159-65 

Constant Nymph, The (Kennedy), 
158, 305ra.7 

Copeau, Jacques: Jouvet and, 18- 
19, 21-68, 89-91; and World War 
I, 40-42 ; school of acting, 40-42, 
62-64, 2957W1.7S, 79; in New York, 
42, 43-55; Ulmpromptu du 
Fcuac-CoZom6ierby,43; attitude 
toward American public, 48; 
resignation as director at Vieux- 
Colombier, 89; candidacy for 
the directorship of Comedie- 
Franc.aise, 135-36, 302wt. 35, 37; 
becomes metteur en scene for 
Comedie-Frangaise, 176 

Corbin, John, 52 

Corneille, Pierre, 177, 193 

Coraeille, Thomas, 235 

Coraey, Camille, 20 

Corsaire, Le (Achard), 187-89, 285 

Costumes: for Le Carosse du Saint 
Sacrement, 46 ; for The Winter's 
Tale, 57-58; for La Machine In- 
female, 153; for La Guerre de 
Troie, 185; for La Folle du 
Chaillot, 212-13, 217, 310reJ4; 
for Les Bonnes, 225; for Dom 
Juan, 23940; for Tartuffe, 

Coup du Deux Decembre, Le 

(Zimmer), 121, 279 
Coupe Enckantee, La (La Fon- 

taine and Champsmesle) , 52, 60, 

65, 200, 273, 286 
Couronnement de Moliere, 43 
Courteline, Georges, 47 
Coward, Noel, 305w.7 
Craig, Gordon, 41, 64, 94 
CrainquebUle (France), 49, 273 
Cranwell (character), 27 
Cremieux, Benjamin, 102, 128, 

131, 184 

Cretai (character), 132, 279 
Crime Impossible, Le, 20 
Critics: and Cartel, 120-21; Jouvet 

and, 146 
Cromedeyre-le-Vieil (Remains) , 

59-60, 274 

Crommelynck, Fernand, 99 
Crozon in the Finistere, birthplace 

of Jouvet, 4 

Daladier, Pierre, 107 

Dalcroze, fimile Jacques, 41 

Dalton, Rene, 309n.l0 

Dance, the, and the theatre, 41 

Dean, Basil, 305n.7 

Decors, French attitude toward, 

189-90; see also Stage sets 
Delacre, Jules, 114 
Delauzac, Paul, 301nJ5 
Delbo, Charlotte, 309n.!0 
Demetrios (Remains), 102-3, 277 
Descalzo, Emmanuel, 203, 309ra.8 
Desvignes (G.H.Mai), Roger, 

Dethomas, Maxime, 292n M 



Deux Paires d*Ami$ (Bost), 106, 

Dhurtal, Henri, 294n.43 

DiaUe et le Bon Dieu, Le (Sartre), 
253-56, 290 

Dictateier, Le (Remains), 106, 278 

Diderot, Denis, 232-33 

Docteur, Le (charactr), 34, 272 

Doctor Knock, see Knock (Ro- 

Dodd, Lewis (character), 159, 283 

Domino (Acbard), 147, 2ai 

Dominos (Couperin), 19 

Dom Juan (Moliere), 230, 23443, 
312JW.2Z, 34, 289 

Doanay, Maurice, 48 

Donogoo-Tonka (Romains), 13941, 

Doray, Therese, 151 

Dorziat, Gabnelle, 249 

Donmic, Rene, 179 

Dresa, Jacques, 292n.3J 

Drinkwater, John, 36 

Dobech, Lucien, 122, 174 

Dubouchet, Jeanne, 96, 110 

Duhamel, Georges, 42, 58-59, 79 9 

Dullin, Charles, 13, 15; portrayal 
of Harpagnon, 33, 47 ; and World 
Var I, 4243; as Fere Rousset, 
49; break with Copean, 56; at 
Atelier Theatre, 118; action a- 
gainst latecomers, 120-21; be- 
comes metteur en scene for Co- 
medie-Frangaise, 176 

Eau Fraiche, V (La Rochelle) , 142, 

Ecole des Femmes* U (Moliere), 

13, 116, 170-76, 197, 199, 209, 

252, 283-84 
Edinburgh International Festival 

of Music and Drama, 226 
Egypt, Jonvet in, 243, 313.47 
Electre (Girandoux), 183-85, 200, 


England, Jouvet in, 36-37, 226 
Esqnerre, Marthe, 295n.79 
Etievant, Yvette, 224 
Enropean tours, Jonvet's ; Rheims, 

7; Porte de Madrid, 12; British 

Isles, 36-37, 226; Monte-Carlo, 

110; Nice, 133, 141; Lyon, 141; 
Marseille, 141, 206; Switzerland, 
142, 197, 252 ; Belgium, 142, 252, 
303ra.58; Italy 141, 142, 243, 
303w.58; Poland, 24344; Ger- 
many, 244; Czechoslovakia, 244; 
Vienna, 244; Spain, 252; Por- 
tugal, 252; Holland, 252; for 
other tours see also Canada; 
Egypt; Latin America tour; 
United States 
Evecnie de Lima (character), 298 

Fahre, Emile, 107, 108, 116-17, 136 
FaiseuTs, Le$ (Balzac), 14 
Fantasia (Mnsset), 19 
Farce du Savetier Enrage, La 33, 

Fardeau de la Liberte (Bernard), 

Filiatre-Demeslin (character), 59, 

FUs Louverne f Les (Schlnmher- 

ger), 30, 271 

Fischer, Max and Alex, 79 
Flers, Robert de, 96, 115 
Foire aux Chimeres, La (maga- 

zine), 11 
Folle de Chaillot, La (Gkaudomx), 

210-21, 288 
Folle Journee, La (Mazaud) , 60, 93, 

95, 274, 275 

Fontgeloy (character), 130, 279 
Footlights, 10, 32 
Fort, Paul, 9-10 
Foulon-Dmbelair (character), 79, 

Fourberies de Scapin, Le$ (Mo- 

liere), 43, 24445, 289 
France, Anatole, 49 
Francen, Victor 109 
Franconi, Gabriel Tristan, 

Fratellini brothers, 295n.79 
French Encyclopedia, article by 
Jouvet in, 168 

GaiUard, Paul, 241, 312n.34 
Gantier, Jean- Jacques, 248 
Gemier, Firmin, 15 
Gendre de M. Poirier, Le (Augier 
and Sandean), 52, 273 


Genet, Jean, 224-26 

Geoffrey, Madeleine, 294n.43 

Gerald, Jim, 301ra.l5 

Geronte (character), 43, 244, 272, 

Gheon, Henri, 19, 23, 29, 58 

Ghosts (Ibsen), 13 

Gide, Andre: reaction to Jouvet's 
portrayal of Doctor Knock, 4, 
86; and Nouvelle Revue Fran- 
gaise, 23 ; Saul, 66 ; quoted on Un 
Taciturne, 143 

Gignonx, Regis, 19, 138 

Ginlsty, Paul, 120, 121 

Giraudoux, Jean: Jouvet and, 116, 
126-53, 183-87, 193, 210-12, 261; 
Siegfried, 126-131, SOOnJO; Am- 
phitryonSS, 136-38, 142, 158; Ju- 
dith, 146, 200; Intermezzo, 148- 
49; success of, 164; Jouvet's ar- 
ticles on, 165-66; Guerre de 
Troie n'aura pas Lieu, La, 166- 
67, 185, 200; Supplement an 
Voyage de Cook, Le, 167-68; 
Electre, 183-85, 200; Impromptu 
de Paris, L\ 185-87; Cantique 
des Cantiques, 190; Ondine, 190- 
93, 196, 200, 226; Tessa, 200; 
Apollon de Mar sac , L\ 200, 226 ; 
death of, 205; Folle de Chaillot, 
La, 210-21; Pour Lucrece, 253; 
homage to, 290 

Goff, Jean le, 109,297.42 

Gogel, Nikolai, 113-16 

Gordon, Leon, 116 

Gournac, Francois, 294n.43 

Grand Theatre, 71 

Grant, Duncan, 38 

Greene, Graham, 256-58 

Grimbosq (character), 30-31, 271 

Groupe d'Action d'Art, 11, 12, 13- 
14, 265-70 

Guermanova, 109 

Guerre de Troie n'aura pas Lieu, 
La (Giraudoux), 166-67, 185, 200, 

Guilhert, Yvette, 43 

Guitry, Lucien, 171 

Guyon, Cecile, 111 

Haedens, Kleher, 191, 192, 219 
Hans (character), 191, 285 


Hebertot, Jacques, 68, 71, 72, 89 
Hector (character), 166, 283 
Helary, 110 
Hervieu, Paul, 48 
Hervin, Claude, 223 
Heywood, Thomas, 26 
Homosexuality, 142-44 
Hopper, Victoria, 305n.7 
Hornblow, Arthur, 45, 47 
Hostel, Banville d', 292n.I5 
Houvffle, Gerard d% 139 
Huisman, Georges, 219 

Ibsen, Henrik, 13, 51-52 

Illusion, L' (Corneille), 177-79, 
284, 307n.50 

Imbecile, L 9 (Bost), 106 

Impromptu de Paris, V (Girau- 
doux) , 185-87, 285 

Impromptu de Versailles (Mo- 
liere), 186 

Impromptu du Vieux Colombier 9 
L 9 (Copeau), 43 

Inspector General, The (Gogol), 

Intermezzo (Giraudoux), 14849, 

International Congress of Psycho- 
logy, 103 

Jackson, Kid (character), 188-89, 

Jalousie du Barbouille, La (Mo- 
Here), 33, 36, 65, 98, 200, 272, 

Jean de la Lune (Achard), 133-36, 

Jef (character), 134-35, 280 

Je Vivrai un Grand Amour (Pas- 
seur), 200, 230, 286 

Josselin (character), 52, 273 

Joueur de Vielle, Le (character), 

Jourdain, Francis, 27 

Journee des Aveux, La (Duhamel) , 
79, 275 

Jouvet, Louis: personal life of: 
birth of, 4; stuttering of, 4, 6; 
education of, 4-8; family oppo- 
sition to theatrical ambitions of, 
6-7; study of pharmacy, 7-8, 10, 
14, 19, 20; goes to Paris, 8; fails 



Jouvet: personal life (Cont.) 
entrance examinations to Con- 
servatoire, 11 ; marriage and fam- 
ily of, 20, 312n.2; personality 
traits of, 30, 33, 54-55, 94-95, 132- 
33,202,210,261; and First World 
War, 4042; vacation trips of 
78,131,132,139; death of mother, 
140; and Second World War, 
195-208; library of, 221; religion 
and, 238-39, 251-52; illness of, 
252-55; death of, 258-59; evaiu- 
tion of place in theatrical his- 
tory of, 260-63 

professional career of: Mo- 
Here and, 4-5, 6, 28, 170-76, 179- 
83, 193, 229-59, 262 ; first job in 
acting, 10; Leloir and, 11-12; 
and Croupe d'Action d'Art, 11- 
15, 265-70 ; tour of provinces, 13 ; 
Leon Noel and, 1446; research 
in theatre techniques, 16-17; 
philosophy of the theatre, 18, 49- 
50, 1034, 14445, 227-28, 229-30, 
233; Copeau and, 21-68, 89-91, 
135-36; Theatre du Vieux-Colom- 
bier and, 21, 22-68, 271-74; tour 
of British Isles, 36-37; tours in 
United States, 42-55, 199, 254; 
acting technique of, 53-54; Jules 
Remains, and 59, 79-88; as teach- 
er at Copeau's school of acting, 
62-64, 29571.79; at Theatre des 
Champs-Elysees, 68, 71-153, 274- 
82 ; play-reading by, 77, 124, 263 ; 
method of directing, 81-83; in- 
terest in scenic problems and 
sound effects, 93, 124-25; Cola- 
nerse and, 97-98; financial pro- 
blems of, 97-98, 99, 100-101, 109; 
Antoine and, 99 ; European tours 
of, 110, 131, 133, 14142, 196-97. 
24344, 252, 303n.5S; Jean Girou- 
doux and, 116, 126-53, 183-87, 193, 
210-12, 261; and theatre Cartel, 
118-21; and Theatre Pigalle, 140, 
14546, 280-81; critics and, 146; 
criticism of, by Lugue-Poe, 149- 
50; Cocteau and, 151-53; at 
Athenee Theatre, 157-259, 28S- 
90; as professor at the Conserva- 
toire, 159-65; writings of, 168-70, 

199, 222, 253 ; in movies, 168, 177, 
195,226-27,253,306^.65; becomes 
metteur en scene for Comedie- 
Franc.aise, 176 ; Legion of Honor 
and, 109, 176, 253 ; in Latin Ame- 
rican countries, 198-206, 286-88; 
return to France, 206-8; recon- 
quering the Parisian public, 209- 
28; subsidy from government, 
212; opinion of French theatre, 
221-22; as president of Societe 
des Historiens de Theatre, 222 ; 
at Edinburgh Festival, 226; in 
Egypt, 243, 31371.47; tour in Ca- 
nada, 254 ; attitude toward Ame- 
rican audiences, 255 ; honors be- 
stowed upon, 258; lectures on 
acting, 262; change in spelling 
of name, 291-92n.24 

for roles played by, sec pp. 

265-90, and individual roles by 
name, e.g., Dom Juan, Knock, 
Tartuffe, etc. 

Jouvets (lamps), 32, 262 

Jouvey, 291-92n.l4 

Judith (Giraudoux), 146, 200, 281 

Kahn, Otto, 42, 48 
Karamazov, Feodor Pavlovitch, 

(character), 35, 36, 272 
Kemp, Robert (critic), 189, 223, 

250, 314n,72 

Kemp, Robert (1841), 235 
Kennedy, Margaret, 158, 305.7 
Klestakoff (character), 114-15, 278 
Knock; ou f Le Triomphe de la 

Medecine (Romains), 34, 79-88, 

100, 199, 252, 275 

Labisse, Felix, 256 

Laffon, Yolande, 109, 224 

La Fontaine, Jean de, 52 

Laius (character), 153, 282 

Laloy, Louis, 19 

Lang, Andre, 219 

Lanvin, Jeanne, 225, 301miJ2, 15 

Lapara, Leo and Vera, 309nJ0 

La Rochelle, Drieu, 142 

Lascaris, Thomas, 37, 272 

Latecomers, action of Cartel a- 

gainst, 119-21 
Latin American tour, Jouvet's: 



Buenos Aires, 198-99; 202, 286, 
288; Rio de Janeiro, 198, 286-88; 
Montevideo, 199, 202 ; Sao Paulo, 
199 ; Kosario, 199, 202 ; Santa Fe, 
199, 202 ; Chile, 203 ; Pera, 2034 ; 
Caracas, 204 ; Bogota, 204 ; Quito, 
204; Cuba, 204-5; Mexico, 205; 
Haiti, 205; lor other tours see 
also Canada; Egypt; European 
tours; United States 

Leautaud, Paul, 76 

Lebre (character), 121-23, 279 

Legion of Honor, Jouvet and, 109, 
176, 253 

Leloir, 11, 171, 292nJ# 

Lemarchand, Jacques, 248-49 

Leopold (character), 117, 279 

Leopold le Bien-Aime (Sarment), 
116-18, 200, 279 

Lescot, Else, 205 

Lestringuez, Pierre, 190 

Liberal, Enrique, 309n.l 

Lievre, Pierre, 116; cited, 144, 
179; quoted, 148, 153, 177 

Lighting: Jouvet's interest in, 20, 
27, 32, 262; for The Winter's 
Tale, 58 ; for L* Amour qui Passe, 
99; for L'Hlusion, 111; for La 
Folle de Chaillot, 21647; for 
UAnnonce Faite a Marie, 224; 
for Tessa, SOSw^J 

London, Vieux-Colombier troupe 
in, 36 

Lory, Jane, 111, 294n.43, 297n.42 

Loscen, F., 292 n.15 

Lugne-Poe, Aurelien-Marie : and 
symbolism, 8, 9-10; criticism of 
M. Le Trouhadec, 76; criticism 
of Jouvet, 149-50 

Machine Infernale, La (Cocteau), 

151-53, 282 

Macroton (character), 28, 271 
Madame Beliard (Vildrac), 101, 

Madwoman of Chaillot (Girau- 

doux), 210-21, 288 
Make-up, 28, 97, 262 
Malachowska, Wanda, 309n.S 
Malborough s'en va-t~en Guerre 

(Achard), 95, 96, 276 
Marayal, Paul, 301.15 

Marcel, Gabriel, 219, 239, 241 
Marcotte, Bernard, 292n.l5 
Mare, Rolf de, 98 
Margrave, La (Savoir), 147, 282 
Marque, Albert, 295^.79 
Marquis de Keergazon (character), 

Marriage de M. Le Trouhadec, Le 

(Romains), 96-97, 276 
Marriage of Figaro (Beaumar- 

chais), 49 
Martin du Gard, Maurice, 132, 142- 

44, 159, 192 

Martin du Gard, Roger, 27, 93 
Marx, Claude-Roger, 116 
Masks, use of, 51 
Massarani, Renzo, 309.12 
Mauchamps, Jacques, 219 
Maulnier, Thierry, 225, 249, 250-51 
Maurois, Andre, 110 
Mauvais Bergers, Les (Mirbeau), 

47, 272, 294 n.55 
Mayane, Marguerite, 214 
Mazaud, Emile, 60, 93 
Medecin Malgre Lui f Le (Moliere) , 

50-51, 65, 200, 273, 287 
Meilhac, Henry, 47 
Melinand, Monique, 214, 223, 224, 

'Mendiant, Le (character), 183-84, 


Mer cadet (character), 14 
Mercury (character), 137, 138, 280 
Merimee, Prosper, 46, 114 
Meteil (character), 19 
Meyerhold, Vsevolod Emilievich, 


Millet, Marcel, 294n.43 
Mil Neuf Cent Douze (Muller and 

Gignoux), 19 

Miming 19, 52-53, 168-69, 248 
Ministre, Le (character), 19 
Mirbeau, Octave, 47, 272, 294n.55 
Misanthrope, Le (Moliere) , 53, 200, 

253, 274, 288 
Mise en scene: Rouche on, 17; for 

A Woman Kitted With Kindness, 

26; for Barberine, 31; for The 

Winter's Tale, 58; for La Scin* 

tillante, 92 ; for Le Marriage de 

M. Le Trouhadec, 97; for Le 

Coup du Deux Decembre, 123 ; 



Mise en scene (Continued) 
for Judith, 146; of Ulllusion, 
179 ; of UAnnonce Faite a Marie, 
223-24; see also Stage sets 

Misraki, Patd, 309raJ2 

Moissan, Catherine, 309ran.l0, 25 

Moliere, Jean Baptiste: Jon vet 
and, 4-5, 6, 28, 50-51, 193, 229- 
59, 262; L'Ecole des Femmes, 13, 
116, 170-76, 197, 199, 209, 2S2; 
L 9 Amour Medecin, 26, 33; I/- 
Avare, 33, 47, 253; La Jalousie 
du Barbouille, 33, 36, 65, 98, 200; 
Les Fourberies de Scapin, 43, 
24445; Le Medecin Malgre Lui, 
50-51, 65, 200; Le Misanthrope, 
53, 200, 253 ; Jonvef s articles on, 
165; Jonvet's lecture on, 179-83; 
Impromptu de Versailles, 186; 
attitude of French audiences to* 
ward, 197; Dom Juan, 230, 234* 
43, 312iwJ21, 34; Tartuffe, 230, 
246-52; characters of, 231; the- 
atre and, 231-32 

M. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la De- 
bauche (Remains), 73-76, 150, 
200, 274 

Moor, Robert, 111, 301*J5 

Korean, Andre, 309rw.#, 25 

Moreno, Marguerite, 214, 220 

Mort de Sparte, La (Schlnmber- 
ger), 64, 274 

Moscow Art Theatre, 109, 298.47 

Mouret, Odette, 301nJ5 

Movies: French theatre and the, 
145; Jonvet and, 168, 177, 195, 
226-27, 253, 306iL28 

Midler, Charles, 19 

Muscar (character), 100, 277 

Mnsset, Alfred de, 19, 31 

Nadaud, S., Ill 

Nan, Eugenie, 294/^43 

New York City, Jonvet in, 42-55, 

Noel, Leon, influence on Jonvet, 

Noisenx, Panlette, 294n.43 

Nouvelle Revue Fremcaise (maga- 
zine), 23 

Occasion, V (Merimee), 200, 287 

Odeon, 16, 104 

Oeuvre des Athletes,!? (Dnhamel) , 

58, 274 
O'Hara, Frank (character), 188-89, 

Ondine (Girandonx) , 190-93, 1%, 

200, 226, 285-86 
On ne Badine pas avec I'Amour 

(Mnsset), 200, 286 
Oswald (character), 13 
Ontin, Regis, 309nn.8, 25 
Ontonron (character) , 167-68, 283 
Outward Bound (Vane), 109, 110- 

13, 278 
Ozeray, Madeleine, 203, 

Fagnol, Marcel, 147 
Pain de Menage, Le (Renard), 36, 

Paix chez Soi, La (Conrteline), 47, 

273, 294n.55 
Paquebot Tenacity, Le (Yildrac), 

Paradoxe sur le Comedien (Did- 

erot), 232 
Passenr, Steve, 116, 131-32, 177, 

Patissiere du Village, La (Savoir), 

147, 281-82 

Pelman Institute, 103 
Perrin, Gilbert, 110 
Petite Marquise, La (Meilhac and 

Halevy), 47, 272, 294n.55 
Petrus (Achard), 151, 282 
Philinte (character), 53, 274 
Phocas le Jardinier (Viele-Grif- 


Piot, Rene, 292nJl 
Pitoeff, Georges, 79, 118 
Potoeff, Ludmilla, 72 
Ponlenc, Francis, 149 
Pour Lucrece (Girandonx), 253 
Power and the Glory, The 

(Greene), 256-58 
Prevost, Elisabeth, 309nnJ, 10 
Prince Serponkhevsky (character), 

65, 274 
Prior, Tom (character), 111, 113, 

Prof Anglais, Le (Gignoux), 138, 




Quintero brothers, 98-99 

Racine, Jean, 13, 193 

Ragpicker (character), 214, 218, 


Ran, Valentine, 27 
Raymone, 214, 3Q9nnJ8, 10 
Redon, Odiion, 9 
Reflexions du Comedien (Jouvet), 


Renard, Jules, 93 
Renoir, Pierre, 129, 132, 137, 


Repertory Theatre (London), 36 
Revizor, Le (Gogol), 113 
Rey, Etienne, 115, 135, 138, 144 
Rieti, Vittorio, 307ra.50 
Rignatdt, Alexandre, 301w.I5, 

309ren.3, 10 
Rio de Janeiro, see Latin Ameri- 

can tour 
Risner-Morineau, Henriette, 205, 

Roi Masque, Le (Remains), 147, 

Roger-Marx, Claude, 93 

Remains, Jules, Jonvet and, 59; 
M. Le Trouhadec Saisi por la 
Debauche, 73-76; Knock, 79-88, 
92;Amedee et les Messieurs en 
Rang, 85 ; La ScintUlante, 89, 92 ;' 
Le Manage de M. Le Trouhadec, 
96; Demetrios, 102-3; Le Dicta- 
teur, 106; Donogoo-Tonka, 139- 
41 ; Le Roi Masque, 147 ; teach- 
er in Copeau's school of acting, 

Romanesques, Les (Rostand), 52, 

Rosmersholm (Ihsen), 51-52, 273 

Rostand, Edmond, 48, 52 

Rostand, Maurice, 143 

Rouche, Jacques, 17 

Roussou, Matei, 36 

Rouveyre, Andre, 109, 130, 138 

Ruyters, Andre, 23 

Salon de 1'Escalier, 107 
Sandeau, Jules, 48, 52 
Santos, Joas-Maria, 309n.l,2 
Sarment, Jean, 11648, 294n.43 
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 253 

Sauguet, Henri, 192, 
Saol(Gide), 66, 274 
Savoir, Alfred, 147 
Savry, Albert* 297re.42 
Schlumherger, Jean, 23, 30, 64 
Scintfflonte, La (Romains), 89, 92, 


Seize, Pierre, 93 
Secret, Le (Bernstein) , 48 
See, Edmond, 138, 192 
Seligmann, Herbert J., 47 
Sganarelle (character) , 50, 273 
Shakespeare, William, 37, 56 
Siegfried (Giraudoux), 126-31, 279, 

Silk Hat, The (Dunsany), 84 

Simon, Michel, 111, 301ra.I5 

Societe des Historiens de The- 
atre, Jouvet as president of, 

"Societe Louis Jonvet,** 101 

Sound effects, 9394 

South America, Jouvet in, see 
Latin American tour 

Stage sets: Antoine and Fort and, 
9-10; Lugne-Poe and, 940; Ron- 
che and, 17; for A Wornan 
Kitted With Kindness, 27; for 
Twelfth Night, 39; for La Four* 
beries de Scapin, 44, 245; for 
La Coupe Enchantee, 53 ; at the 
Vieux-Colomhier, 55-57; for La 
Folle Journee, 60 ; for La Mort 
de Sparte, 64-65; for Saul t 67; 
forM. Le Trouhadec Saisi par la 
Debauche, 74-75; for Knock, 84, 
88; for La Scintillante, 92; for 
L* Amour qui Passe, 99; for 
Madame Beliard, 102; for Le 
Dictateur, 108; for Outward 
Bound, 111-13 ; for Le Coup du 
Deux Decembre, 122-23 ; for Am- 
phitryon 38, 138; for Le Prof 
d? Anglais, 139; for Donogoo- 
Tonka, 140-41; for Judith, 146; 
for Intermezzo, 148; for La 
Machine Infernale, 152-53; for 
La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas 
Lieu, 167 ; for UEcole des Fern* 
mes, 174-75, 306n.42; for L'lllu- 
sion, 178; for Electre, 184^85 ; for 
Le Corsaire, 188-89; for Ondine, 


Stage sets (Continued) 
191-92; for La Folle de Chail- 
lot, 215-16 ; for VAnnonce Fcdte 
a Marie, 224; for Les Bonnes, 
225 ; in the classical theatre, 230 ; 
for Dom Juan, 240, 24243; for 
Tartuffe, 313?i.59; see also 
Berard, Christian; Jouvet, 
Louis; Mise en scene 
Strowski, Fortunat, 120, 134-35 
Studio des Champs*Elysees, 71, 72, 


Snares, Andre, 28, 33 
Superstitions in the theatre, 163 
Supplement au Voyage de Cook, 

Le (Giraudoux), 167-68, 283 
Suzanne (Passeur), 131-32, 279 
Szekeiey, Andre de, 292jiJ5 

Tahoos in the theatre, 163 
Tacitume, JJn. (Martin du Card), 

14244, 281 
Tartuffe (Moliere), 230, 246-52, 


Tchelitchew, Pavel, 191-92 
Tessa ( Giraudoux) , 158-59, 200, 

Tessier, Yalentine, 101; roles play- 

ed hy, 132, 134, 137, 294^.43, 


Theatre de la Ruche des Arts, 12- 

13, 265, 267 
Theatre de FAthenee Saint-Ger- 

Testament du Pere Leleu, Le 
(Martin du Card), 93, 276 

Theatre, French: influence of 
Lugne-Poe on, 8, 9-10; during 
War years, 40, 55, 195-208; need 
for unity among actor, author, 
and audience, 73 ; Jouvet's ideas 
on, 94, 1034, 160^5, 221-22, 227- 
28, 233; legislation concerning, 
14445 ; organizations dealing 
with conditions in, 14445, 303 
n.7S; movie industry and the, 
145 ; Lugne-Poe's article on state 
of, 149-50; taboos and super- 
stitions in, 163, 164; Moliere 
and, 231-32; Diderot and, 232- 
33; Balzac and, 233-34; Jouvet's 
place in history of, 260-63 

Theatre d'Action d'Art, 12-17, 268- 

Theatre d'Art, 9 


Theatre de FOeuvre, 9, 76 
Theatre des Arts, 17-19, 270-71 
Theatre des Champs Elysees, 68, 

71453, 274-82 

Theatre des Mathurins, 118, 121 
Theatre du Chateau d'Eau, 20 
Theatre du Gymnase, 121 
Theatre du Vieux-Colomhier, 21, 

22-68, 271-74, 292i^3, 293/j.S, 


Theatre Frangais, 170 
Theatre Mute, 9 
Theatre Pigalle, 140, 280, 281 

Thiery, Jacques, 203, 309*J0 
Thieux, Louis (character), 294ra.55 
Thomas (character), 142, 281 
Tiger at the Gates (Giraudoux), 

166-67, 185, 200, 283 
Tisel, Georgina, 309im.I0, 25 
Tolstoi, Alexis, 65, 296n36 
Tours of Louis Jouvet, see Canada ; 

Egypt; European tours; Latin 

American tour; ^United States 
Tricolore (Lestringuez), 190, 285 
Trielle (character), 294.55 
Triolet, Elsa, 249 
Tripes d J Or (Crommelynck) , 99- 

100, 277, 29Sn22 
Trachard (character) , 60-61, 93, 95, 

274, 275 
Twelfth Night, (Shakespeare), 37, 


Ulasdislas (character), 31, 271 
Ulric Brendel (character), 52, 273 
UNESCO'S International Theatre 

Month, 254 
United States, Jouvet in, 42-55, 

254; for other tours see also 

Canada; Egypt; European tour; 

Latin American tour 
Universite Populaire du Faubourg 

Saint-Antoine, 12, 170, 265 

Valfine (character), 138-39, 280 
Vallauris, Jean, 301nJ5 
Vallee, Marcel, 294j*.43 



Vane, Button, 109, 110-13 

Veber, Pierre, 76 

Vercors, Anne (character), 201, 223, 


Verola, Paid, 110 
Viele-Griffin, Francis, 60 
Vildrac, Charles, 13, 58, 101-2 
Vildrac, Jacques, 294rc.43 
Yitray, Georges, 295u.79, Wn.42 
Vuiiiard, Edouard, 9, 190 

Weber, Lucien, 294re.43 

White Cargo (Gordon), 116 
Winter's Tale, The (Shakespeare), 

56, 274 
Woman Kitted With Kindness, A 

World War I, effect on theatre, 40, 

World War II, Jouvet's activities 

during, 198-206 

Zimmer, Bernard, 104-6, 121 
Zossima, Father (character), 18 

(Continued from front flap) 

ties and, as far as humanly possible, with 
a mind devoid of personal, literary, or 
S historical preconceptions. He relied on 
his experience to assess for him the 
rhythms of the dialogue and the struc- 
ture of the play. He did not hesitate to 
follow the dictates of his intuition, if 
need he, for he realized that the truths 
of the theatre are not rational truths." 
Because of his fresh approach, Jouvet 
infused the works of Moliere with a 
vitality that made them live for a twen- 
tieth-century audience. Similarly, it was 
Jouvet's skillful direction that helped 
gain quick recognition for the subtle and 
enigmatic works of Giraudoux. 
Working through the medium of his 
individual performances and produc- 
tions a method that is particularly ap- 
propriate for this dedicated artist Mrs. 
Knapp has written a biography about 
which Michael Redgrave f i * "If any 
actor ever deserved such a tribute as this 
book, it would not be one but sevsral of 
the muses who would vote for Louis 

Mrs. Knapp, who is a member of the 
Fren-cli Department at Columbia Uni- 
versity, studied at Lake Erie College, 
Barnard College, Columbia University, 
and the Sorbonne. She has based tins 
book largely upon research done in Pa- 
ris, where she interviewed personalities 
of the theatrical and literary world who 
knew Jouvet. 

3 = 

1 32 769